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Grammar Cop: Apostrophe Crime Wave

There was a time when a citizen could walk the streets of New York or cruise a Los Angeles freeway without incident. The times have changed. From coast to coast, in bustling urban centers and subdued farm towns, the evidence has been captured by Grammatical Enforcement officers of all types. The statistics - overwhelming. The visual proof - incontrovertible. The verdict - in:

Schools no longer teach what the apostrophe is for. They're not even hinting.


Count 1: Negligent contraction.
Count 2: Rendering crime permanent through silk-screening.

Apprehended by: Officer Franchi, Los Angeles Grammar Task Force.


Count 1: Construction of a false plural noun.
Count 2: Operating a motor vehicle with a false plural noun.
Count 3: Indecent exposure of a false plural noun on public roadways and thoroughfares.

Apprehended by: Officer Law, Los Angeles Gang & Proofreading Unit.


Count 1: Construction of a false plural noun.
Count 2: Construction of a false plural noun.
Count 3: Utilizing a false plural noun in the name of a business or commercial enterprise.
Count 4: Utilizing false plural noun(s) on signage.

Apprehended by: Officer Blevins, Manhattan Grammatical Affairs Bureau.


Count 1: Construction of a false plural noun.
Count 2: Failure to utilize an apostrophe in the construction of a possessive.
Count 3: Rendering infraction(s) in tin, thus making infraction(s) permanent and exposing them to people wanting a biscuit.

Apprehended by: Officer Franchi, Los Angeles Grammar Task Force.


Count 1: Negligent use of an apostrophe in the commission of a plural noun.

Apprehended by: Officer Carson, Grammatical Park Rangers.


Count 1: Usage of a quote in the construction of a contraction.
Count 2: Improper placement of faulty quote.
Count 3: Painting said infraction on the side of a giant rock.

Apprehended by: Reverend Aster, Utah Latter Day Grammatical Saints.

©Brian Sack | Filed under: Grammar Cop | 9 Comments | Email to a Friend
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In eighth-hearted defense of the Park Ranger, perhaps shower is of the singular variety and the arrow denotes 'that-a-way' thereby rendering the true meaning: 'Shower is that-a-way' shortened to 'Shower's that-a-way' or 'Shower's ->'. If this is the case, Park Ranger sign writer should receive some sort of apposite apostraphe application award. Everyone else should be sho't.

While you're right to be offended by the construction of a false plural noun in the "Driver's are only allowed to lift 25lbs" sign, where's the outrage at the misplaced "only" ?? More like: "Drivers are allowed to lift only 25 lbs."

Good catch, Tami! That misplaced modifier split's the infinitive...

A split infinitive would be "to only lift", which is a dubious grammatical rule in the first place. That said, it is possible that the driver is not allowed to drive, and is only allowed to lift 25 pounds. No more, no less, and no other activities.

an apostrophe is used in the pluralization of an acronym such as DVD or with a number such as 1,000. So, those two are, in fact, correct.

[ Most style guides disagree. Also, DVD is not an acronym. -B. ]

Er, DVD is an acronym. It stands for Digital Versatile Disc.

[ Nein! It's an initialism. -B ]

Apostrophes on plural initialisms such as "dvd's for sale" is okay, but "DVD's for Sale" is not. (Unless, of course, it means one DVD is for sale.) Apostrophes on plural initialisms are only acceptable if the initialism is in lowercase. Therefore, type your initialisms and acronyms in uppercase and pluralize them by using a lowercase s. This avoids confusion. Numbers, however, do NOT need an apostrophe. Period. If you do type in all capital letters, stop now.

thnkyu gramer copp

LOVE this page. There I was, looking for material to help me out in my English language coursework, hoping there were people out there as frustrated by apostrophe misuse as me, and patience was rewarded. Thanks!

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