What a Prepostrophe!

As far as punctuation goes, my favourite symbol is the exclamation mark! I believe it is no surprise that the exclamation mark has been given pride of place above number 1. I also admire its next-door neighbour, the at symbol. To have had one foot in the grave just a few decades ago and turn that around to become the veritable go-to guy of punctuation marks is surely an impressive achievement by anyone’s standards. Next down the row is the gutsy, forward thinking hashtag which I like to imagine as a Gen Y up-and-comer who has just dropped out of business school but is likely to be CEO of a multibillion dollar company within the next few years. And who doesn’t adore the humble question mark? Without it, where would we be??

There is much to love about many of the punctuation marks at our disposal; we are blessed. But there is one punctuation mark which I believe has gotten way too big for its boots…

Not content to provide an excellent service indicating possession and filling in for missing letters in contractions, the apostrophe has invaded the plural market. Having no enemy to contend with, the apostrophe raised its flag, set up camp, and is now so happily ensconced it is sitting by the pool drinking margaritas.

Apostrophe misuse has become so prolific that if you attempt to use the apostrophe correctly, people think you’re wrong. As a manager, I tried to correct apostrophe misuse in presentations a number of times only to have my direct reports look confused, nod their heads, and leave the apostrophe right where it was. The real reason I quit my job was not to spend more time with my young children – it was because if I had to see “KPI’s” on a Powerpoint presentation one more time I may have caused harm to myself or others.

But my escape plan backfired.

I now have a 6 year old daughter who knows enough about apostrophes to use them, but not enough to use them properly. To give her credit, she is an excellent writer. She loves it. Her spelling could use some work, her idea of good descriptive prose is to use approximately twelve adjectives to describe a single noun, and the twists and turns of her stories are the stuff of wild dreams (or nightmares). All of this is incredibly cute and endearing.

But when I first saw her apostrophise a plural, something inside of me died.

I can’t recall the exact sentence – I may have blocked it out. But I’m sure it was something along the lines of “Many unicorn’s flew over the forest.” Gasp.

No doubt apostrophe rules won’t appear in her curriculum for a few years yet, so in the meantime I have attempted to give her a very short and simple lesson. But society is working relentlessly against me:

Luckily, Hubby is an apostrophe purist too – by which I mean he also only likes to use apostrophes in the correct manner. My sister is the same way – I once accidentally sent her a text message with “it’s” instead of “its” and she replied immediately with a correction and a “please explain”.

With such solid influences around her, I’m sure our daughter will come through her early apostrophe confusion unscathed.

Plus, I have devised a new game: Whoever sees a misused apostrophe and is the first to yell out “PREPOSTROPHE!” gets some M&M’s…


Photo credit: sebFlyte via photopin,dick dotcom via photopin, Jonathunder via photopin


10 thoughts on “What a Prepostrophe!

  1. I dont know what your talking about….I think everybody know’s how to use apostrophe’s. If they dont, I blame there teacher’s!

  2. I am with you!!! Recently a wedding invitation we received was “Your invited…” Seriously, on a wedding invitation – professionally printed!!! And don’t get me started on “their/there/they’re”. My other bugbear is the proliferation of “hey” instead of “hi, hello, dear”. A teacher-friend said she is having to mark assignments with “txt” language throughout – can you imagine my horror! C u @ wtrlu Napolean! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to some “m&m’s” – just kidding!! Mmm M&Ms…xo

    • So glad you feel the same way! Bit embarrassing re the wedding invitations… Reminds me of when Hubby and I noticed a typo on our wedding invitations and had to print them all again. Nightmare.
      Can’t believe the youngsters are txting their assignments these days. Feel so old! Xx

  3. A girl after my own heart! I am a pedant and proud! I have never understood why people find the use of apostrophes so complicated to master. Now split infinitives…I can see why people forget that but apostrophes…no excuse. I find the photo with CDs and DVD’s particularly disturbing – how can you get it right once and then wrong immediately afterwards. The “Luggage trolley’s” picture also has some interesting usage of capital letters in utterly inappropriate places: Luggage and Beyond! My personal favourite when it comes to punctuation marks/symbols is the ampersand – firstly because no-one ever know what the ‘&’ symbol is called and secondly because my husband has never been able to write one!

  4. this is my favourite post CR. I’m a spellist from way back. I’ve dumped more than one or two guys on the basis of texts with:
    1. Your instead of you’re
    2. Incorrect spelling of “definitely”

    also the annoying up and coming spelling error has to be the spelling of “divine” – seen usually as “devine”…wt?

    I’d be interested to hear your view on the serial comma (aka the Harvard comma)….I’m sure you have one…
    love x

    • Oh – I totally understand. How can you take someone seriously after they send you a text telling you “your really beautiful”?? Definitely dump worthy.
      Devine? What is that???
      Also, just because you asked, I don’t mind serial commas – not in every situation, mind you, but I do think they have a place.
      I have also recently relaxed my position on starting sentences with And or But.
      I hope we can still be friends….

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