Can We Stop the Apostrophe Madness?

copyright Monte Mendoza | flickr

copyright Monte Mendoza | flickr

I’m about to lose my mind. Seriously.

I’ve talked about this on my blog before, but I just can’t let this go. Nope. I just can’t.

It probably comes from being a writer, but all this apostrophe madness is making me Nuts. Yes. With a capital ‘N’.

What is apostrophe madness, you say? Well, it’s this:

  • It’s isn’t Its, and Its isn’t It’s. It’s with an apostrophe is a contraction and is the short form for it is or it has. Its without an apostrophe is the possessive pronoun of it. Examples:
    • It’s
      • It’s raining outside. (Because you can say It is raining outside.)
      • I think it’s a terrible idea. (Because you can say I think it is a terrible idea.)
      • Oh man, it’s been a long day. (Because you can say Oh man, it has been a long day.)
    • Its
      • The cat ate its food. (Because you can’t say The cat ate it is food.)
      • The tree loses its leaves in the Fall. (Because you can’t say The tree loses it is leaves in the Fall.)
  • If you are talking about plurals (nouns that are more than one), no apostrophe is needed. Examples:

    • Grills for sale. (NOT Grill’s for sale).
    • I brought candles to the party. (NOT I brought candle’s to the party.)
    • Temperature highs for today will be cooler than normal. (NOT Temperature high’s for today will be cooler than normal.)
  • Acronyms don’t use an apostrophe either, with one exception. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “If you can stop thinking of the spelled-out meaning of the acronym and just treat the acronym itself as a word with its own meaning, you should be able to add that little s without fretting.” So read this carefully:
    • IOUs (not IOU’s)
    • MDs (not MD’s)
    • RFPs (not RFP’s)
  • The exception? If you have an acronym with periods, you’d use the apostrophe. In these cases having no apostrophe would look confusing because a period is normally viewed as the end of a sentence:
    • P.A.’s (not C.P.A.s)
    • M.D.’s (not M.D.s)
    • C.C.J.’s (not C.C.J.s)
  • First names that are plural don’t use an apostrophe. EVER. EVER. EVER. Names signify a noun, and pluralized nouns don’t use an apostrophe. Period. (I threw in a funny there. Did you catch it?). If your first name ends in “s, x, z, ch, sh”, you add an “es”. Examples:
    • How many Annas are in your class? (NOT How many Anna’s are in your class?)
    • There are a lot of Mikes in the world. (NOT There are a lot of Mike’s in the world.)
    • I know three Riches at work. (NOT I know three Rich’s at work.)
  • Last names that are plural don’t use an apostrophe. EVER. EVER. EVER. And if your last name ends in “s, x, z, ch, sh”, you add an “es”. Examples:
    • Merry Christmas from the Millers. (NOT Merry Christmas from the Miller’s.)
    • Happy New Year from the Joneses. (NOT Happy New Year from the Jones’s.)
    • The Kennedys are hosting a party! (NOT The Kennedy’s are hosting a party!)
  • Brand names don’t use an apostrophe if you’re talking about more than one. Examples:
    • The plural of the Blackberry phone, for example, would be Blackberrys and NOT Blackberry’s.
    • Likewise, you’d say, “I have two iPads” and NOT “I have two iPad’s”.
    • And Victoria’s Secret really had a winner with Body, which would pluralize like this: Victoria’s Secret was showing off its Bodys (NOT Body’s).
    • (And we won’t get into certain company trademarks here, a la Apple, which specify how the public is supposed to really pluralize their product – because people just don’t speak that way.) 🙂
  • Numbers are simple: you never add an apostrophe to make them plural. So:
    • He was born in the 1980s. (NOT He was born in the 1980’s).
    • Clients in their 60s will benefit most from this program. (NOT Clients in their 60’s will benefit most from this program.)
    • That airline is going to build more 747s. (NOT That airline is going to build more 747’s.)

There. I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.

Copyright © 2012-2016 · All Rights Reserved ·

About terriponce

I write about secrets, suspense, and soulmates.
This entry was posted in Stories Behind The Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Can We Stop the Apostrophe Madness?

  1. swiveltam says:

    I think the tricky part is when you have a name that ends in s or z and your want to write a possessive like, James’s chin hair. I’ve seen it done James’ and done James’s.


  2. Uttley says:

    Got me on numbers. Good to know. I shall govern my number pluralization accordingly. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. And I’ve learned not to include any character with the last name Jones in my novels, so for now I’m safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Judith Mehl says:

    Great reminders. I’m not sure we’ll ever get the Joneses correct but we’ll try. The only one that bothers me is the use of “it is” in dialogue. People don’t generally say, “It is raining.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, even though some of these depend on the manual of style you’re using (for example, the extra ‘s after a name ending with an s itself), and on the region (eg Australian English; British English; American English etc). Nice to have all the rules in one place, though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. krblake says:

    While we’re on the topic. What about plural first and last names that are possessive? As in “That’s the Kennedy’s dog.” And I’m still not sure about names that end with “s” that are also possessive. As in “That’s the Jones’ property.” or “That’s the Jones’s property.” I say Jones’s aloud, but I’ve been told the extra “s” is not needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • terriponce says:

      Well CMOS says it’s Joneses. The apostrophe is still wrong. Such s difficult language!

      Liked by 1 person

      • krblake says:

        Ah! So, the Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t add an apostrophe after Joneses? That’s how some other Grammar books say it should be done. You’re right. I think English is one of the most difficult languages to master, especially when even experts disagree how certain words should be written. Sigh.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.