Apostrophes, apostrophe’s, apostrophes’.

Apostrophe abuse at Fun Shack. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Oh dear.  Oh deary dear.  I can cope with the missing G, even the missing “and”.  But not all the extraneous apostrophes.  According to the other image on Flickr from the same place, Fun Shack, the signs inside were just as bad.  Kids who go to these places are typically still learning to read and write properly; this sort of rubbish won’t help their progress.

The other thing about the sign that bugs me is that it was obviously made by a professional sign-writing firm.  Why did they not ask whether the person who ordered it would like the errors corrected?  Misplaced politeness, perhaps.  Ignorance?  It’s poor customer care, whatever the reason.  Signs like this lower the reputation of the places that put them up, so it would be kinder of the sign-maker, and better business practise, to point out the errors.

Some English speakers are very inaccurate with their own language.  It’s always puzzled me.  It’s easy to blame it on our education system, and sometimes that’s correct.  I rehearse in a church hall that’s also used by a playgroup, and it’s to be hoped none of the kids can read yet because, if they can, they’re going to pick up some nasty errors!  It’s easy to blame it on Twitter and texting, too – but nobody puts extra characters in either of those.

I think it’s more a matter of confidence.  English is complicated – I don’t think any other language has quite as many uses for the apostrophe – and if you can’t remember what you’re supposed to do you look at what other people are doing for guidance.  You see signs like the one above and think they’re right.  And so the cycle turns.

It’s my passion in life to help people write good English.  I wrote a piece on LinkedIn recently that laid out the six basic rules for apostrophes, so if you can’t remember when you should and shouldn’t use them you can take a quick tour here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-do-apostrophes-matter-charlotte-fleming. 

If you go to https://greatcopy.info/free-report/ and fill in  your details, I’ll send you a copy of 27 Writing Mistakes, my short, breezy guide to English grammar and how to “rite proper”.  You’ll be added to my newsletter/special offer list, too, but you can always unsubscribe later if it’s not for you.  For more in-depth training check out my face-to-face course at https://greatcopy.info/training/write-and-proper/.

Here’s to the glory of the English language, properly used!


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