Grammar Sam: That Awful Apostrophe

Sam Beeson, a.k.a. Gammar Sam helps us sort through one of the most glaring problems he spots: the awful apostrophe.

This is an actual letter (email) Grammar Sam received just as school was starting at UVU.

Mr. Beeson,

I ordered our english book a week and a half ago and thought it would be here today. It still hasn’t arrived and so we aren’t able to read Chapter 1 in our textbook. I was just wondering if you have any idea’s of how we can get this, so we can be prepared for the quiz….I know the library doesn’t have it. So if you have any idea’s that could help us out that would be great.

That dreaded apostrophe!

It tripped up the student twice in just one short email. Apostrophes are frequently used incorrectly, but normally fall into a couple different usage categories. This week Grammar Sam walks us through when and where to use it,

Ahhhhhh! The flying comma! 96% of the time, apostrophes do two things:

1. Indicate possession


Jim’s dog is barking. (Jim possesses the dog)
The sign’s letters have faded. (The sign possesses letters)
The chef’s salad must be served chilled. (The chef possesses the salad.)

2. Indicate missing letters and digits

It isn’t his fault. (It is not his fault)
Davis was born in ’39. (1939)
O’er the land of the free . . . (Over the land of the free . . .)

Again, that’s 96% of the time.

For the other four percent, the following link to humorist Dave Barry’s column entitled, “Give ‘em ‘ell” is a must read.

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