Sunday, May 10, 2009

Apostrophes and Ss

We saw it this quote -- and others like it -- on Facebook enough times today that it prompted us to comment. The offending usage: "I hope all of you mother's (sic) out there have a great day."

Apparently many of you skipped grammar school or have overactive pinkies on your right hands.

Let's go over this one more time. There are two important correct uses for the apostrophe...and one far-too-common abuse, at which we cast today's idiot flag.

First, it is used to indicate a possessive. For example, this is my mother's favorite cake. This is my father's sports car. I am wearing my sister's underwear. Each of these demonstrates the grammatically correct use of the apostrophe to indicate the possessive.

Second, it is used in a contraction to indicate that something is missing. For example, "I can not abide the misuse of punctuation" can be contracted to "I can't abide the misuse of punctuation." The little apostrophe shows that "can not" has been shortened to "can't."

Is this all coming back?

The abuse makes us want to toss our Mother's Day cookies. For some reason that escapes us, some butchers of the mother tongue continue to use an apostrophe and an "s" when the latter will suffice. Thus, the disdain for the quote above: "All you mother's out there."

All you mother's what? It's a plural. No apostrophe necessary for a plural. Just add the damn "s."


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