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In my day (the '70s) you were constantly corrected for abusing apostrophes. Nowadays, who cares? Well, I do and you should too
It's official. Apostrophes are being abused all over Australia. The delicate and special apostrophe is being trotted out on display whenever people have doubts about their grammar.
Apostrophes have been hauled into the public arena and slapped around for all to see - on signs, directions, advertising and on the internet.
So much so, that I'm thinking of forming a political party with the theme:
s'top apo'strophe abu'se
So, just how has this apostrophe abuse happened in Australia? Surely, our primary school teachers taught us the relevant rules. In my day (the '70s) you were constantly corrected for abusing apostrophes. Nowadays, who cares? Well, I do and you should too.
Here are the six main rules for correct apostrophe use:
1. Never use an apostrophe to form a plural (ie. more than one), as in:
2. An apostrophe is used to show the omission of letters in a shortened word, as in:
3. An apostrophe denotes that someone owns something. This is called a possessive singular noun, as in:
4. For plural possessive nouns, use an apostrophe after the plural word, as in:
5. If the word is plural and does not end with an s, you add an apostrophe, followed by an s. This is called a plural possessive noun, (not ending in s):
6. Use an apostrophe when two or more people or groups own the same thing, as in:
So, that's the shortened version. It saves you yawning through about five years of grammar lessons.
The very amusing website Oatmeal has a great set of posters about grammar that'll really get you laughing. There are posters about irony, how to use a semicolon, when and when not to use i.e. in a sentence and 10 words you need to stop misspelling. Make them your bible and you'll become the teacher's pet.
So, feel free to send in your real-life photos of apostrophe abuse; I'd love to publish them on my next blog. I reckon I'm not the only one who gets raving mad about apostrophe abuse.
This post was originally published on TAFEnow on 20 March 2014. TAFEnow is an Australia-wide online provider, operating out of North Coast TAFE, one of the 10 TAFE NSW Institutes. Enquiries can be directed to tafenow.com.au.