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The Apostrophe Options · View
clum
Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 4:21:24 PM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
I have been delighted and encouraged by the reception my threads on punctuation have had thus far. My list of future topics is now a good length but I am always willing to take on suggestions.

Today's lesson is in the art of the apostrophe ('). This little nuisance is probably top of many Story Verifiers' I-Wish-They-Would-Get-It-Right lists. The problem with the apostrophe is that there are many cases to consider and, even after that, there are loads of exceptions.

I cannot possibly cover everything that needs to be said but hopefully I will give a good enough grounding that there will only be the occasional instance of having to look up the correct usage on Google. As with previous threads, I will be happy to answer your questions and respond to your disputes/objections.


Contractions

Apostrophes can be used, in some cases, to turn two words into one or to shorten a word to make it sound slightly different. This is (usually) done by replacing one or more letters with a single apostrophe. This technique, used outside of dialogue, gives quite an informal tone to your writing so bear that in mind when using it.

It is particularly common to do this with a verb + "not" or verb + "have" construction. It is important to note that the apostrophe should not (necessarily) be placed where there would normally be a space between the two words but where the letter(s) has been omitted.

Example 1

"You don't have to stop," said Fred, "But you could've told me you were going to stick it up my bum."

There are some strange cases, such as "shan't" and "won't", which do not follow the usual pattern and you should be aware of these.

Another common form of contraction is to remove the first or last letters of a word. This is very rarely seen outside of dialogue as it usually gives a colloquial way of saying something. Frequent examples involve dropping the "g" from a word ending "ing" or removing the "h" from the start of a word.

Example 2

"I'm tellin' you, Margaret, it was as 'eavy as a bag of sugar."

(I threw in a little bonus contraction for you there). Note, if your sentence begins with a contracted word then the first letter appearing should still be capitalised.

Please, if you can, avoid double contractions such as "wouldn't've"; they are utterly loathsome.

Contractions pop up all over the place. Make sure that, if you are using them, you're using them correctly.


Possession

The apostrophe is often used to denote possession. This should be done by adjoining an apostrophe and an "s" to the end of the noun (in most cases).

Example 1

Joey's dick was not nearly as big as Kenny's but it was huge next to everybody else's. His dick's thickness was something to be marvelled at.

Unfortunately, it is not always quite as straightforward as that - we haven't discussed what to do with words that end with an "s". As you read this, bear in mind that there are exceptions to almost every "rule" I give.

Singular nouns, including people's names, follow the usual rules.

Example 2

The witness's account of her boss's affair was music to Chris's ears.

This would be the natural way to say this sentence but people often stumble when writing because of the confusion around the many rules of apostrophes. My advice is to go with your gut but go cautiously.

Plural nouns ending in "s" do not require an additional "s" after the apostrophe.

Example 3

The ladies' performance was extremely arousing and the guys' dicks were soon taking a sound beating. The men's faces were a picture.

I have highlighted a particular irritant of mine - they are the faces of the men so the apostrophe comes after "men", not after "mens". In general, this is a good way to check if you are using your apostrophes correctly.

To illustrate some common exceptions, I provide an extra example.

Example 4

"For goodness' sake, Mairi," cried Fred, "Stop taking Jesus' name in vain when we're fucking."

Luckily, these don't come up very often. If doubtful, write what sounds best when you read it in your head. You might still be wrong but other people have a better chance of knowing what you meant.


It's vs. Its

This is something that so many people get wrong (and I can understand why) and just something that needs to be learned by rote.

If you are contracting "it is" or "it has", use the apostrophe in the way I have described above.

If you are indicating possession by "it" then no apostrophe is required.

Example

"It's this old back massager; I think its batteries need to be replaced."

In fact, other possessive pronouns also have this peculiarity: if it belongs to you/her/us/them then it is yours/hers/ours/theirs. The English language is weird like that.


Pluralisation

Apostrophes should NOT be used to pluralise nouns. Do not do it.


That's your lot for this evening. If you really do not know where or whether to use an apostrophe, try to rephrase your sentence in such a way that it is not necessary. They can be bothersome little buggars.

Thank you for your time. You may now return to the porn.

Every day is a school day.
Guest
Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:08:43 PM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 531,823
Hahaah

*slow clap*

LOVE the thread Clum...


(although, I personally spell BUGGARS as BUGGERS)

Bwahahahaah
Shylass
Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:21:17 PM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
Posts: 3,595
Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
Blimey, I didn't know Fred takes it up the bum! I learn more and more about him every day! I did know Mairi was foul-mouthed, though...

Another top thread, lad.


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Shylass
Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:25:41 PM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
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Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
clum wrote:


Example

"It's this old back massager; I think its batteries need replaced."



Please do tenses next! You are making ME tense, now that I have spotted this. "Its batteries need replacing."

It's all well and good being brilliant, and then letting us mere mortals know you are only human too, but not this way! Dear Neptune, not this way!


Ut incepit fidelis, sic permanet.

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Coco
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:14:06 AM

Rank: Story Lover

Joined: 7/22/2011
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Location: Fantasy City, United States
I think I just had a grammar induced orgasm.... damn intelligence and wit, I should give you a kiss.

Guest
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:58:33 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 531,823
Shylass wrote:



Please do tenses next! You are making ME tense, now that I have spotted this. "Its batteries need replacing."

It's all well and good being brilliant, and then letting us mere mortals know you are only human too, but not this way! Dear Neptune, not this way!


Or I would have said "its batteries need to be replaced"

Although, as it's in dialogue, I don't suppose it matters... Still, it's being used as an example... Hmm
clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 2:17:26 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Thanks, Shylass and Mazza. I'll change it to, "to be replaced." As Mazza said, you could get away with it because it's in speech. However, I wasn't trying to get away with anything; I just made a mistake. It happens, even to me. :p

Every day is a school day.
Guest
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 2:19:22 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 531,823
clum wrote:
Thanks, Shylass and Mazza. I'll change it to, "to be replaced." As Mazza said, you could get away with it because it's in speech. However, I wasn't trying to get away with anything; I just made a mistake. It happens, even to me. :p


You're welcome...

Of course, if we'd had any class, we'd have PMd you, rather than pointing it out for all to see!!

evil4
clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 2:27:21 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The important thing is that I used the apostrophes correctly. (But yeah, thanks for making look like a FOOL!).

Every day is a school day.
Shylass
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 4:15:37 AM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
Posts: 3,595
Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
Seriously, that is the one thing that makes me physically cringe grammar-wise in speech. Everyfink else I ain't even bovverred about, but that... angry7

I LOVE you for changing it, Clum, thank you. Big Hugs Mazza, please be inpressed I have not pointed it out to you before, I was trying really, really hard. Innit. flower

*EDIT* Remember, Clum: You can't be perfect, or you would make the rest of us feel inferior.


Ut incepit fidelis, sic permanet.

***
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clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 6:57:51 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
A good example of why apostrophes (and punctuation in general) are important:

"He's 'armless." vs. "He's armless!"

That is one hilarious mistake to make.

Every day is a school day.
Buz
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 7:16:48 AM

Rank: The Linebacker

Joined: 3/2/2011
Posts: 5,703
Location: Atlanta, United States
clum wrote:
A good example of why apostrophes (and punctuation in general) are important:

"He's 'armless." vs. "He's armless!"


That would cause a dyslexic to go postal. In fact looking at that just gives me a headache.

Dirty_D
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 7:21:00 AM

Rank: Head Nurse

Joined: 4/15/2011
Posts: 7,096
Location: Soaking up the sun, United States
Shylass wrote:
Seriously, that is the one thing that makes me physically cringe grammar-wise in speech. Everyfink else I ain't even bovverred about, but that... angry7

I LOVE you for changing it, Clum, thank you. Big Hugs Mazza, please be inpressed I have not pointed it out to you before, I was trying really, really hard. Innit. flower

*EDIT* Remember, Clum: You can't be perfect, or you would make the rest of us feel inferior.


MMMEEE TOOOOO!!

lafayettemister
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 7:45:22 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 10/4/2010
Posts: 6,372
Location: Alabama, United States
Clum; thanks for helping me with all this. Im glad to know that the problems with commas, and apostrophe's isnt just mine's. Keep up the good work.

I've enjoyed both threads. One is never to old to learn something new. Or to reacquaint with something already learned yet forgotten, in part or in whole.





When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates
DLizze
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 8:05:15 AM

Rank: Story Verifier

Joined: 4/23/2011
Posts: 2,552
I would have said "... its batteries need replacing." I am a big fan of the gerund.

Apropos the apostrophe, I have long been in awe of Shakespeare's use of it. Here's one of my favorite examples, because he manages to insert three in a sentence of only seven words: " 'Tis done, and there's an end on't."

(All you writers should take note of the unusual space between the opening quotation mark and the first apostrophe. Normally, in writing dialogue, there would be no space between it and the first spoken word. But in this case it is necessary, to avoid "losing" the apostrophe in a sea of hash marks.)

"There's only three tempos: slow, medium and fast. When you get between in the cracks, ain't nuthin' happenin'." Ben Webster
clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 8:26:01 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
DLizze wrote:
(All you writers should take note of the unusual space between the opening quotation mark and the first apostrophe. Normally, in writing dialogue, there would be no space between it and the first spoken word. But in this case it is necessary, to avoid "losing" the apostrophe in a sea of hash marks.)


Thanks, DLizze. That's something I would never have thought to mention but would probably have done instinctively. Take note, aspiring Shakespeares (pluralisation ⇒ no apostrophe).

Every day is a school day.
Shylass
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 11:23:40 AM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
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Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
Shylass wrote:
Seriously, that is the one thing that makes me physically cringe grammar-wise in speech. Everyfink else I ain't even bovverred about, but that... angry7

I LOVE you for changing it, Clum, thank you. Big Hugs Mazza, please be inpressed I have not pointed it out to you before, I was trying really, really hard. Innit. flower

*EDIT* Remember, Clum: You can't be perfect, or you would make the rest of us feel inferior.


Clum, just to make you feel better, I made a spelling mistake (not on purpose), and I can't believe nobody else noticed it! d'oh!

DLizze, come to think of it, I would also be very likely to say "its batteries need replacing". However, I was using the tense Clum used. And now I'm getting all confuddled, and I have to look up gerund, and I never knew that about the Extra Space. No wonder it always looked weird to me when I wrote it without! Ta for that! Big Hugs


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DirtyMartini
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 11:35:34 AM

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Shylass wrote:



Please do tenses next! You are making ME tense, now that I have spotted this. "Its batteries need replacing."


I would have never noticed that in million years, though I've been told I had a problem with tenses...or maybe I've been having a problem with tenses in the past...or maybe I will still be having a problem with tenses...

Not really sure...this whole situation is making me tense...dontknow


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Shylass
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:04:33 PM

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DirtyMartini wrote:


I would have never noticed that in million years, though I've been told I had a problem with tenses...or maybe I've been having a problem with tenses in the past...or maybe I will still be having a problem with tenses...

Not really sure...this whole situation is making me tense...dontknow


Maybe your batteries have needed replacing for a while. clown


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clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:18:25 PM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
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Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Shylass wrote:
Clum, just to make you feel better, I made a spelling mistake (not on purpose), and I can't believe nobody else noticed it! d'oh!


I did notice but thought you might have done it on purpose so didn't want to point it out. It was more of a typographical error than a misspelling anyway.

My gingas are so yummy, by the way.

Every day is a school day.
sprite
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:26:21 PM

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clum wrote:


I did notice but thought you might have done it on purpose so didn't want to point it out. It was more of a typographical error than a misspelling anyway.

My gingas are so yummy, by the way.


so are mine... oh, you're talking about cookies? umm.. nevermind! *giggles* btw...

your very cute. *grins and scampers*

http://www.lushstories.com/stories/hardcore/west-coast-games-part-one-the-beach.aspx
clum
Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 1:41:46 PM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Quick note:

"To whom does this dildo belong?" = "Whose dildo is this?"

Who's = Who is.



Every day is a school day.
overmykneenow
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:32:15 AM

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The possesive is a contraction too - is which why it's "its" not "it's"

"John's things" is a contaction of "John, his things" - when put this way "its" would need an apostrophe as much as "his" would.



Warning: The opinions above are those of an anonymous individual on the internet. They are opinions, unless they're facts. They may be ill-informed, out of touch with reality or just plain stupid. They may contain traces of irony. If reading these opinions causes you to be become outraged or you start displaying the symptoms of outrage, stop reading them immediately. If symptoms persist, consult a psychiatrist.

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Dirty_D
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:36:50 AM

Rank: Head Nurse

Joined: 4/15/2011
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Location: Soaking up the sun, United States
clum wrote:
Quick note:

"To whom does this dildo belong?" = "Whose dildo is this?"

Who's = Who is.



How about: "Who's the owner of this dildo?"




I get very, very frustrated when the tenses don't match in the same sentence. >:(

clum
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:45:46 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
naughtynurse wrote:
How about: "Who's the owner of this dildo?"


This example, although saying the same thing, doesn't illustrate my point (in fact, it would only serve to confuse).

naughtynurse wrote:
I get very, very frustrated when the tenses don't match in the same sentence. >:(


My tenses do match, as far as I can tell. If I'm wrong (tenses aren't my strong suit) then please elaborate, if you can.

Every day is a school day.
Guest
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:55:03 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 531,823
naughtynurse wrote:


How about: "Who's the owner of this dildo?"




I get very, very frustrated when the tenses don't match in the same sentence. >:(


How about, "Where the F**** is my dildo????"

(at least that's what I's be saying or thinking if mine was missing!!)

evil4
clum
Posted: Friday, June 01, 2012 8:12:57 PM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Every day is a school day.
CuriousButterfly
Posted: Saturday, June 02, 2012 8:44:55 AM

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Location: NOYB, Canada
Excellent!

Now please, write about the ellipsis...and how they are so overused.

happy8

clum
Posted: Saturday, June 02, 2012 8:55:58 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,274
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
CuriousButterfly wrote:
Excellent!

Now please, write about the ellipsis...and how they are so overused.

happy8


I see what you did there...

The ellipsis is next on my list, as it goes. Might even get time to do it this evening.

Every day is a school day.
T_Elle
Posted: Saturday, June 02, 2012 1:17:18 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 5/17/2012
Posts: 137
Location: Canada
Oh, no! Don't get after improper use of ellipsis... I'll be in so much trouble! :)
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