English 98: That Floaty Comma

I‘ve been asked by a few people to do a quick post on apostrophes or as I’ve heard it put by kids at my son’s school, “that comma that floats up there at the top.”  *drags out her Remedial English soap box and hops on up*

The apostrophe is one of the most misused punctuation marks out there.  Correctly, it’s used to show a contraction, possesion, and (though I just avoid it myself) the plural of lower case letters. 

Don’t you want to pod him?  This is the contration of do not.  These are relatively simple and I rarely see these bungled.  This is the main job of an apostrophe.  I even like to use two in words like sha’n’t, though it is antiquated and almost never used now (What??  I like pretending I’m old and British!).

Mynxee’s Cynabal has a sexy paintjob!  This is a correct use of possession and for the most part, this concept is pretty easy.  The tricky part is when it becomes involved.  However, you can avoid a mistake by remembering the apostrophe’s original job: showing a contraction.  It’s is a contraction meaning it is.  When you want to show that it possesses, you leave out the apostrophe all together.  The Cynabal has a steamy shot of Roc Wieler on its hull.

I made sure to dot my i’s and cross my t’s.  It is correct to show the plural of LOWER CASE letters with an apostrophe.  However, as I said, I prefer avoiding this and use the upper case instead.

An apostrophe is NOT used to show plural numbers, acronyms, or upper case letters.

I love the 80’s.  I love the ’80s!

POS’s take too long to kill!  POSes take too long to kill!  (Keep in mind you still use an apostrophe to show possesion here:  a POS’s guns.)

I left out the E’s in my letter.  I left out the Es in my letter.

There you have it. Follow my rules and we’ll get along famously. Break them and I’ll talk about you behind your back.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Sard Caid February 12, 2009, 7:05 am

  • X1376 February 12, 2009, 7:44 am

    I am bookmark this. Though I have trouble with that possession version. Sometime I think I describe possession but apostrophe feels silly there. 🙂

  • Myrhial Arkenath February 12, 2009, 8:40 am

    "POS’s take too long to kill!" <- Always make that mistake myself, until a corp member recently pointed it out to me.

  • Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" February 12, 2009, 11:33 pm

    Thank you!
    Thank you!
    Thank you!

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