Misplaced Apostrophes – Are You Guilty of This Error?

Let's Punctu8: Misplaced Apostrophes #1

Does the picture above hurt your eyes and mind? Do you recoil with horror, realizing how wrong the writer was? Unfortunately, that writer is in very good – if misguided – company.

Every time I teach American grammar to my adult students, at least one brave soul – who is usually speaking for many – admits to using apostrophes at the end of words, without really knowing why. If pressed, most people just say the word looks better with it.

But there are good reasons to use apostrophes, as with all the other punctuation marks. The fact that a word “looks better with an apostrophe” is not a good reason. The fact that your boss “likes it that way” is not a good reason. The fact that it’s a foreign word is NOT a good reason.

Most of the time, the apostrophe gets thrown at the end of a plural word, and I don’t know why. In both British and American English, regular plurals are formed by adding s or es to the word, not an apostrophe.

So work with me here. You can have one cat or a litter of cats. One lion or a pride of lions. One dog or two dogs. One son or several sons. One house lot or several lots. One house or many houses. One taco or a bunch of tacos. One pizza or many pizzas. One burrito or a few burritos.

Got it? Great! Now please go teach it to the masses . . . (And despite what the picture above shows – the plural of classes has no apostrophe.)