Wednesday's are for Grammar

Your Homework last week was to create a sentence with a dash, and ellipsis and brackets. I'm pleased to say that a number of you did well.

Who Gets to Post the Coveted Grammar Award Button
I was absolutely thrilled with the homework this week. I must give you all kudos. Not only did everyone use the marks correctly, but truly, reading them brought a huge smile to my face.

Without further ado, a big round of applause to:
- Sweet Camden Lass - who is very good at this.
- Martha - who writes quite well, don't listen to her protestations.
- Aunt Becky - who has never done her homework before. A special round of appluase for not being such a slacker.
- JamieD and JuliaS who always do their homework.
- Carbon - who doesn't like parenthesis in conversation.
- Tash, who has, quite possibly the jerkiest ex in all creation
- Two Hands (who called me charming!)
- Alice - who rhymes. And is funny. And Charming. And used another language in her sentence!

A reminder. If you don't do the button and you keep it up on your blog, your hair will turn green, your tomatoes will explode in your garden and your back bumper will fall off at a traffic light. I mean it!

This Week's Lesson:
Ahh, the time has come dear readers. I'm afraid we must discuss that most awe inspiring mark, the apostrophe. I know that you don't like them. Although, I must say I find the fact that there is a campaign to ban the apostrophe a titch distressing. Surely there are more pressing issues at hand? (1)

Apostrophe's are actually important, with 3 main uses.

1. To indicate that a noun or a pronoun is possessive.
This part gets a bad rap, only because no one can ever figure out where to add the apostrophe if there's an S. Everyone is disconcerted. Here are the rules. Write them on your hand until you memorize them.
a. When the noun or pronoun does not end in 's', use 's to show possession.
Mrs. Spit's knitting. (the knitting, belonging to Mrs. Spit)

b. When the noun or pronoun ends in 's', add another 's to the word.
The bus's passengers were completely bored with nothing to knit.

c. When a plural noun (already more than one) ends in 's', use only the apostrophe. Truly this seems to screw people up. What the rule means is this. If you already have more than one thing, don't add another s. That would be a plural of a plural. If you add the apostrophe before the 's', there can only be one of the noun. A plural is denoted by the 's'.
The boys' bicycles were run over by Mrs. Spit's car. (note this, there are several boys, but only one Mrs. Spit)

d. Add the apostrophe and the s to end of a compound word. (2)
The Thursday-Whinge-For-All's prize is a scarf this month. (3)

e. Where there is individual possession, each person owning the noun or pronoun in the sentence, they each get an 's to indicate the ownership is separate.
Mrs. Spit's and Mr. Spit's pets are not always well behaved. (4)

f. In join possession, only use one 's at the end of the nouns or pronouns in the sentence.
Mr. and Mrs. Spit's fridge smells really bad.

2. Apostrophe's are used to indicate that letters have been omitted from a word. These words are called contractions. Contractions are generally informal, and should be spelled out in formal language. (5)
Mrs. Spit can't go, she has too much weeding in her garden.

3. Use an apostrophe to form plurals of individual letters of words, numbers or symbols.
Mrs. Spit has a lot of S's in her name.
Yes, that's right. My phone number is 444-4444 - there are seven 4's.

Important Note on the Grocer's apostrophe.
For some peculiar reason, writers assume that if they are identifying single nouns, they should follow this rule. Accordingly my grocery store is notorious for having:
Pear's, .79 cents/pound.
Now, we know that we aren't forming plurals of a single number or letter, so that's not why they are using the apostrophe. Surely there are no letters missing, which means that the store seems to be indicating that the pear's belong to someone or something else. Now, this is concerning. If the pears belong to another, really whom do they belong too, and should you be selling them if you don't legitimately own them?

Your Homework:
Now that you know better, your mission is to identify an abused apostrophe in the comments section of the blog. Bonus points if you take a writing implement and fix it then and there. (6) Yes, you can use the English Fail Blog or the like, but if you do, you have to identify why the mark is wrong. People finding examples in real life may merely leave me the details in the comments, or email me a picture, to be posted on next week's blog entry.

(1) All is not lost. There is also a society to protect the poor wee mark. They have t-shirts. They could likely use the money from the sales to further their work. Just a hint. (Likely a 2xl please)
(2) Alas, hardly anyone uses compound words any more.
(3) No really, it is. Looks lovely.
(4) It's hard to think of an example in this case. This is a terribly awkward sentence construction, it's not often used.
(5) And I don't care where you are, Ain't isn't a word! Ever! Under any circumstances! Even if you are the President of the United States, you sound like a fool if you use ain't!
(6) But don't get yourself arrested. That would just look bad.