Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grammar School for Bloggers: Plurals and Apostrophes


For today’s lesson, I’d like to point out an error that I see frequently: using an apostrophe to make a plural* word. This is what I mean:

This site has some great giveaway’s!
She looked like a rock star from the 1980’s.
Parent’s need to be informed.

In most cases, an “apostrophe s” is used to show ownership, as in…

Her daughter’s coat was missing.

…or as a contraction.

There’s a man at the door.

However, apostrophes are not necessary when you are pluralizing a word, such as “giveaways” or “parents” in the examples above.

Decades and centuries are very commonly written incorrectly. They should look like this:

1980s NOT 1980’s
1920s NOT 1920’s
1800s NOT 1800’s

Correct: Many wars were waged in the 1800s.
Incorrect: Many people were unemployed in the 1930’s.

Ask yourself:

Is there any ownership going on (daughter’s coat)? If yes, use the apostrophe.
Am I using a contraction (there’s)? If yes, use the apostrophe.
Am I using the plural form of a word (giveaways)? If yes, skip the apostrophe.

*plural = more than one of something

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