When to use an apostrophe

I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. If you have a reputation to uphold then the last thing you want to do is damage it by sending out written material that contains errors.

You wouldn’t believe the problems this tiny little punctuation mark can cause. It’s so insignificant you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….

….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!

So, let’s have a quick look at the only two instances when an apostrophe should be used.

To show that something belongs to someone, e.g.

Singular nouns and personal names:

The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.

John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.

Personal names that end in –s:

Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles.

BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, e.g. St Thomas’ Hospital

Plural nouns that end in –s:

The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs.

Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees.

Plural nouns not ending in –s:

The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men.

The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children.

The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women.

To show that letters have been left out, e.g.

I’m – short for ‘I am’

They’re – short for ‘they are’

Didn’t – short for ‘did not’

He’ll – short for ‘he will’

It’s – short for ‘it is’

The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and are used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.

One of the commonest mistakes I see is where people use an apostrophe to express a plural, especially when figures are involved, e.g.

In the 1980’s…

This is incorrect because it’s talking about the decade from 1980 to 1989 so it’s a plural and should be written ‘1980s’.

As a proofreader this kind of mistake is the sort of thing that I’m on the lookout for, not just because I’m a pedant, but to ensure that your writing is accurate, looks professional and is error-free. This gives you peace of mind safe in the knowledge that whatever you’re publishing will mean your readers will focus on your message or the meaning of your content and not looking for the next mistake.

If you would like me to help you to ‘get it right first time’, then please contact me on:

T: 07843 304743

E: peter@ppgproofreading.co.uk

Speak soon

Peter Clarke

aka The OopsProofer & Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate

Tackling the Growing Loneliness Crisis: A Free Symposium for Southampton Businesses

4pm to 6pm Tuesday, 4th October 2016, Hawthorn Suite, Solent Conference Suite, The Spark, East Park Terrace, Southampton, SO14 0YN (Solent University)

Southampton City Council has organised this workshop to discuss with local business leaders, how they can benefit from getting involved in tackling loneliness in the City.

Loneliness is not just a problem for older people, 50% of calls to Childline nationally are made by young people saying they feel socially isolated. Southampton City Council believe there are opportunities for businesses in getting involved.

They would like to invite anyone who might be interested to the event and have asked us to share this invitation, please register your interest in attending by emailing Andrew Gittins andrew.gittins@southamptoncityccg.nhs.uk

 

Do you need an anti bribery policy?

It is illegal to offer, promise, give, request, agree, receive or accept bribes. The purpose of an anti-bribery policy is to protect your business. You should have one if there is a risk that someone who works for you or on your behalf might be exposed to bribery.

Need some help?

Do I really need to keep records and have procedures in place?

By way of an example, with the new rules the burden of proof that the required information has been given is with you as a trader. So it really is in your interests to keep good records and have a system in place so you can prove the point.