Improve Your Communications Skills!
what a cool thing!
Apostrophe Abuse! (shudder)
Behold the mystery at last revealed!
Consider the following four sentences:
1. These vans are all for sale.
The word vans in this example refers to more than one van, making it PLURAL. (sorry, didn't mean to shout)
Plural words such as vans, TVs, boats, cans, hats, etc., never have an apostrophe!
This is where apostrophes are abused most often, by putting them in where they don't belong, and it is done by people who ought to know better.
I have even seen this error in Microsoft operating system dialogue boxes!
Don't waste them! Save those apostrophes for the next three purposes:
2. This van's on the road at last.
The word van's in this sentence is called a contraction, which combines van and is.
The sentence could be re-written as: This van is on the road at last. Always use an apostrophe in this case.
3. That van's color is blue.
Here, the word van's is not a contraction, but an apostrophe is inserted to indicate the possessive form of the word. Other possessive forms are: the man's cat, the evening's darkness, and a hard day's night.
Note that in these examples, one could not re-write the apostrophized words to include is in place of 's.
4. Those vans' colors are all different.
Here is the least common, although perfectly correct use of an apostrophe.
The word vans' in this example is called a plural possessive and it indicates possession by more than one.
Cool, huh? Note that the word colors is a plural, and has no apostrophe.
There it is, the bold truth about apostrophes. You are now armed with this fine knowledge, and although the errors are everywhere, resist the urge to go about with a magic marker and a bottle of white-out, making corrections....
You may incur the wrath of your neighbors.
I think it's worth it, though. Heh heh heh.
Tao-Chan Meditation Center