Misuse an apostrophe, lose a limb

Dearest Submissive Scribes,

Today (well, tonight) I’m in the closing stage of 10K Day for Writers, a wonderful event hosted by Milli Thornton, a dear friend and colleague of mine. I’m liable to get close to 7,000. That’s not bad considering I didn’t even begin till this afternoon.  I’m incredibly nocturnal, so my work days begin around 12 or 1 p.m. and end anywhere from 3 to 6 a.m.  It’s punishing, but I like it! *wink* Oh yeah — speaking of kick-ass Milli, she’s the author of Fear of Writing, which is a book all you musing minions need on your shelves. Go buy a copy — now 😉

Now, to the subject at hand:

If there’s one thing that makes me wanna beat people to a pulp, it’s a misused apostrophe. I’m so rabid about this error that my poor husband will go to great lengths to avoid using any apostrophes. He would rather do that than suffer the resultant bitching that would commence should he use one incorrectly.

On any given day, I spat expletives at the sight of any number of signs around town that sport misused apostrophes. Some signs, like the pawn shop up the road, actually have the audacity to misuse more than one apostrophe on the same sign! Be still my beating dark heart! What are these people trying to do, kill me from shock? One misused apostrophe on a sign is a travesty; more than one misused apostrophe on the same sign is a catastrophe!

Using apostrophes correctly isn’t rocket science. Most of you know this, but some of you don’t. And for those of you who don’t, bend over and take your punishment right now! *whack whack*! There. Now, shall we get back to business?

Here are several tips for using apostrophes. There are others, but this’ll give you a generous taste to get you started. You’ll have to beg for more — or find them out yourself!:

1. Apostrophes are used in contractions. Simply place the apostrophe in place of the letter you’re taking out. Example:  you’re* = you are.

*not to be confused with “your,” which many cretins on the internet seem to do these days. SCREAM! Look at any Facebook or MySpace profile and you’re sure to see a plethora of examples. Especially accompanied by flashy graphics guaranteed to make you hurl. GAG!

2. Apostrophes are used for singular and plural possession. If singular possession, put the apostrophe BEFORE the “s.” If plural possession, put the apostrophe AFTER the “s.” This trips a lot of people up. Boy’s is ONE boy; boys’ is MORE THAN ONE boy. Got it? Simple and easy. What’s the problem?

What’s that, you say? What do you do if the noun ends in an “s” already? Well then, you can simply add the apostrophe, followed by an additional “s.” An example would be: Jones’s computer. This depends on the style guide, however. Some styles want that second “s” after the apostrophe, while others will tell you to leave the apostrophe after the first “s” and forego the second “s,” like this: Jones’ computer. Ask your editor and/or consult your assigned or preferred style guide for the correct preference.

3. Apostrophes are NOT used for the plural of a name. Example: The Smiths own a rabid Koi fish. (Yeah, I know there’s no such thing. Couldn’t resist.)

4. Apostrophes are used on possessive nouns before the use of an -ing word (known as a gerund). Example:  Lynda’s yammering gets on my nerves!

5.  Apostrophes should be added, along with an “s,” at the end of singular compound nouns. Example: Her sister-in-law’s riding crop is wicked. For compound plural nouns, state the number or amount before the noun, then add the apostrophe and follow with an “s.” Example: Her two sister-in-law’s bondage outfits are exactly alike.

6. Apostrophes are only used on the second person’s name if two people own the same thing. Example: Bill and Barb’s hot tub offers loads of fun!

7. Apostrophes are used in it’s ONLY if you mean to say “it has” or “it is.” There is NO apostrophe used if you use its as a possessive pronoun. Example: The cat looked like it had an evil smile on its face.

For a more in-depth view into the beloved apostrophe, visit these sites:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe

http://www.write101.com/sample.htm

http://languagerules.wordpress.com/2006/10/02/apostrophe-obsessions/

Do I have an apostrophe fetish? You bet I do. I dream about apostrophes with cherries and whipped cream. And nuts. Lots of nuts. *evil grin* Seriously, the apostrophe — along with the semi-colon — is one of my favorite punctuation marks. In fact, I’d rank my first five thusly*:

1. Apostrophe

2. Semi-colon

3. Question mark

4. Exclamation point

5. Colon

Why is the colon near the bottom? You tell me. I just work here. Sometimes. On occasion. When the mood strikes. Meh.

* did I have to use that pretentious word? Oh yes. Yes I did.

Time’s up, my pretties!

Until next we meet, keep whipping those words, sentences and paragraphs into shape!

The Writer’s Dominatrix

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For glaring examples of apostrophe abuse and how to avoid it, visit these sites:

Apostrophe Abuse: http://www.apostropheabuse.com/

Americans Against Apostrophe Abuse: http://stopapostropheabuse.com/

Apostrophe Protection Society: http://www.apostrophe.org.uk/

Apostrophe Abuse on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apostropheabuse

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