Retired journalist John Richards founded The Apostrophe Protection Society as a way of ‘preserving the correct use of this much-abused punctuation mark’. In an interview with the BBC, John said that when he first initiated the society, he would receive 40 emails or letters every week from people across the world, but that has dwindled and he now receives hardly anything.
Having turned 96 in 2019, John has cited ignorance and laziness in the modern era as his reasons for retiring from the fight. But, it’s something we will never give up on!
With PR, social media and copywriting departments, words are a major part of our business and our team prides itself on having good grammar and creating quality copy.
We’re carrying on the bad grammar battle
So, in recognition and respect of John’s battle, our team of inhouse copywriters – each one a grammar aficionado – has put together their top tips on the correct use of the much-feared apostrophe. After all, getting it wrong can cause confusion and irritation, but getting it right can help determine whether you know your s**t, or whether you know you’re s**t!
Top tip 1 – use an apostrophe to show possession
Possession when one person is involved:
Peter’s office is always tidy
Lizzie’s desk drawers are full of sweets
Possession when more than one person is involved:
The rule is to only use an apostrophe after the final person, even when the object belongs to both.
Martin and Suzanne’s lunch break is at 12pm.
Gemma and Graham’s big meeting is today.
Possession when the name/object ends in ‘s’:
The rule is to add the apostrophe after the ‘s’.
Chris’ parents are on holiday this week, so party round his!
Jesus’ disciples were very loyal – except for one; Judas’ morals were questionable.
Top tip 2 – use an apostrophe to show contraction
Cairine can’t understand why not everyone likes cold beans with tinned sardines.
Tracie doesn’t drink alcohol. Ever.
Top tip 3 – how to get ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ right
Only use an apostrophe when contracting ‘it is’:
It’s about time Harriette made a brew.
Is that Just For Men on Jamie’s hair? No, it’s natural, he’d have us believe…
Never use an apostrophe for ‘it’ when denoting possession:
The horse shook its mane
The dog wagged its tail
With this guide, you won’t go far wrong!