You may or may not know this about me, but I am very good at grammar. I am an excellent speller. I rarely make errors in sentence structure, capitalization, or punctuation (unless I want to, of course). This is in both English and French.
I am also quite good at finding and correcting other peoples’ mistakes in these areas. It’s a bit of a dubious skill, because I discover such mistakes everywhere, even when I don’t want to, and it can be rather exasperating. The written world is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and if I’m reading it, I will spot them.
But by far, the writing error that pisses me off the most is the misuse of the apostrophe.
You know what I’m talking about: “your” versus “you’re ” , “dogs” versus “dog’s”, “it’s” versus “its”.
There are RULES, people!
If the word you’re writing can be split into two separate words, such as “you are” from “you’re”, then the apostrophe is required to show where the missing letter or letters are. It’s called a contraction, because you’re contracting two words into one and taking a letter or two out.
If a plural is intended, such as “all the dogs”, then there is no apostrophe. Ever. If something belongs to the subject, such as “the dog’s bone”, then an apostrophe is necessary. This is called the possessive, and the only way you can show this is with an apostrophe before the “s”. You don’t have a choice in the matter.
Now, “its/ it’s” can be tricky, granted. But again, there are rules. If it’s a contraction and what you really mean is “it is”, then the contraction rule applies and you have to put in the apostrophe. You can’t opt out. You HAVE to put in the apostrophe to show where the missing letter should be. If it’s a possessive, as in when writing about something genderless such as a table and you want to write about “its surface”, then in this case ONLY do you omit the apostrophe. Did you get that? In this case ONLY! This is an exception to the general possessive rule. One of the ONLY exceptions to the possessive rule. How hard can that be to remember one of the ONLY exceptions to the possessive rule?!
Yes, of course I know that there are other incidences of apostrophe issues in written English, but these are the ones that I notice the most frequently.
So, because I have now shared some of my apostrophe expertise with you as a public service, I now bestow upon myself the following award. I found it over at The Bloggess, and she said anybody could claim it if they chose to. Well, I choose to. Yay me.