Friday, August 19, 2011

Grammar Friday - Apostrophes, Part 2

Is the following sentence correct?

Your individual personality and experience meets peoples needs in different ways.

Generally, an apostrophe is used to identify either plural or possessive. Since people is already plural, the s is possessive and should be written:

Your individual personality and experience meets people's needs in different ways.

Example (Wikipedia):
Kingsley Amis, on being challenged to produce a sentence whose meaning depended on a possessive apostrophe, came up with:
Those things over there are my husband's. (Those things over there belong to my husband.)
Those things over there are my husbands'. (Those things over there belong to several husbands of mine.)
Those things over there are my husbands. (I'm married to those men over there.)
Wow. This lady's been busy. Forget Polygamy. Go for Polyandry. O_o

The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.  Examples:
She consulted with three M.D.s.
She went to three M.D.s' offices.
The apostrophe is needed here to show plural possessive.

She learned her ABCs.
the 1990s not the 1990's
the '90s or the mid-'70s not the '90's or the mid-'70’s
She learned her times tables for 6s and 7s.

Exception: Use apostrophes with capital letters and numbers
when the meaning would be unclear otherwise.

      Please dot your i's.
You don't mean “is.”
For some great pictures demonstrating misuse of apostrophes, you can check out the blog Apostrophe Abuse.
So, are you an abuser? Do your fingers sometimes sneak an apostrophe somewhere you KNOW it doesn't belong?
*raises hand*


  1. I certainly learned a thing or two here today, Thanks.


  2. Great refresher, Donna!

    I have a problem with possessives when it comes to proper names ending in "s." ....s's just doesn't look right to me. I suppose I should pick up the Chicago Manual of Style, but why do that when I can lose even more hair every time I come across one?

  3. I love apostrophes! And I know a writer friend who continues to use them with plurals (and I constantly correct her) and it drives me up a wall XD

  4. Yvonne - Now if my fingers would just do what they know.

    Bryce - According to the Gregg Reference Manual, if you say the "s" put the "s" in. Like Jones's. Of course, that' s one style. =D

    Lori - Makes me nuts, too. I want to pull out my red pen or get a red marker for all the signs I see don't wrong.

  5. I feel annoyed when I see a street name that should have a apostrophe and it hasn't.

  6. I'll tell you where I have a problem that I actually have to stop and think. (It's...its.) Even now as I'm writing it I'm still confused. Often have to pop up the definition. Can you believe it that such a tiny word can create such havock? :)

  7. I love these Friday posts! The examples are always so helpful. Thank you, Donna. Have a great weekend! :)

  8. I just thought that the misplaced apostrophe is part of the joke (shrug) :)

  9. Laila - I only do that on its possessive. I just WANT to put an apostrophe there.

    Carrie - you too!

    Mark - lol

  10. I am so guilty of this!! Thanks for the tips, and I love that cartoon, BTW.

  11. Yes Donna. I know I make this mistake with things like M.D's. When a word is an abbreviation to begin with, I get all messed up. Not to worry, that is supposed to be the editor's job. (notice the apostrophe which means not your job. LOL)

  12. I hate aprostrophes (apostrophe's?) see!

  13. J.A. - Guilty here, too.

    Eve - Good point. And if we don't use an editor (*gasp*) we need to know for ourselves.

    Silvina - lol

  14. I try to be careful with my apostrophes. :) It is great to learn more about this.

  15. It rarely happens to me and when it does, it's mainly my little issue with homophones that kicks in.

    So I'd write it's instead of its or there's instead of theirs. Even though I know which one is the right one.

  16. Thanks for the reminder! I try to be very careful when it comes to this, but I'm sure I make plenty of errors still. :)

  17. sm - I need reminders sometimes.

    Belle - same here, but my fingers are oppositionally defiant at time.

    Misha - Just what I said to Belle. I have a son who's really anal about these things and it bugs me when my fingers misbehave on the keyboard and he catches it because he acts like I don't know any better. Ugh!

    Pk - don't we all?

  18. Hi Donna,
    Come on over to my place. There are a couple of awards waiting for you over there.
    Valentina x

  19. Oh, Valentina, you're too nice! Two?


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