Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The wandering apostrophe (a mini-rant)

If you’ve read ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ by Lynne Truss, you’ll know that the misuse of the apostrophe has been going on for quite some time!

Lately I seem to be constantly visually assaulted by haphazardly placed apostrophes on web pages, blogs and even in newspapers - and it’s really getting to me!!

It would appear that the current thinking is - if in doubt, use an apostrophe. Who cares whether it’s right or wrong – it has a 50/50 chance.

The word that is annoying me the most – at the time of writing – is the word LOTS. I keep seeing LOT’S (as in "... and Lot's more!") with a misplaced apostrophe and what I want to know is, what belongs to LOT? Does the writer think it looks better with an apostrophe than without? Is it somehow under-dressed without?

I know that my own use of English grammar isn’t wonderful and I do get confused with other punctuation marks and when to use them (colons and semi-colons have always been a bit of a mystery – and I’ll admit to overusing the comma, and the exclamation mark, at times!!), but I do like to think I know how to use the misunderstood apostrophe properly.

First impressions mean a lot when people visit your web page or read your brochure, and it’s vital to get the spelling and punctuation right. It can be difficult to spot your own typos so getting someone else to proof read your copy is always a good idea, as is reading it backwards.

Could it be that with the increase of ‘text speak’ and reliance on spell checks, people are forgetting how to use apostrophes correctly? What’s been your experience?

Louise Barnes-Johnston
Pedantic punctuator

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