Friday, April 23, 2010

The Apostrophe Continues to Baffle

Now I wouldn’t have thought it to be so difficult, but clearly many people don’t know where to put an apostrophe. Oh sure, I make mistakes myself when I'm flying through some of my own writing, but that's why you hire an editor.

But still, with all the eyes that must have looked at these items, the mistakes abound.

No Drink’s Allowed (sheesh)

The Most Versatile Crossover In It’s Class (ouch)

A rattlesnakes’ bite is poisonous.(Hmmm, how about a rattlesnake's bite? You know, singular, since you said it was A rattlesnake and not a BUNCH of rattlesnakes.)

So where DOES this pesky mark go? There are some pretty simple rules for apostrophe usage:

1. To show a contraction: The cat’s out of the bag.
2. To show possession: The cat’s feet are out of the bag.
3. To avoid confusion when talking about the plural of lower case letters such as there are two s’s in Mississippi.

You use an apostrophe after the plural s as shown by the Chicago Manual of Style below:

• a consumers’ group
• taxpayers’ associations
• children’s rights
• the women’s team
• a boys’ club

And Chicago Manual of Style dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names:

• Publishers Weekly
• Diners Club
• Department of Veterans Affairs
• a housewares sale

 Hope that clears it up a bit.