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Don't Abuse Apostrophe's!

A short rant and a deliberate mistake in the title!

As an author of novels and business books, I am constantly checking my ancient grammar books which I found in a box when I cleared out my Dad’s house, (he died in 2013). These are dated 1967, the year I went to what used to be the Ernest Bailey Grammar School in Matlock.

My two pet grammar hates are using less (cars) instead of fewer (cars) and could of instead of could have. Ok, Ok, I AM the grammar police but how can children learn another language if they don’t know the rules of their own? |My many years of Latin, French and Spanish depended on a good grounding in English. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I do think my generation were taught English Grammar to exceptionally high standards so glaring mistakes, such as with the apostrophe, stab me in the eye.

The following are a handful of examples I’ve picked up over the past two weeks.  

  • Room’s for rent
  • Book your city break’s here.
  • Doctors parking only
  • Cats toys (more than one cat)
  • Its a great day
  • Look at it’s tail.
  • MOT’s while you wait.

I was amused and pleased to discover there is an organisation for the protection of the apostrophe http://www.apostrophe.org.uk/  

As they say, the rules governing the use of the apostrophe are very simple so why are there so many mistakes, especially by businesses hoping to impress customers? Please, please check your signs before you make them public.

Now the comma is a mystery since rules seemed to have changed. It’s certainly misused and overused. My old English teacher use to say, ‘you can put that bag of commas away.’  I still make mistakes as you might discover.

 The most obvious time to use the comma is when making a list; - pens, pencils, paper.  You need a comma to break up long clauses. My favourite use of it, is as follows; Having read the book before, I decided not to join the discussion. See a comma as a breath.  

I was taught never ever to use a comma before and or but.  However, as usual there are exceptions. I’m not even going to go into the tale of the Oxford comma.  This excellent link explains all you need to know.


So, is my grammar perfect? Of course not. I rely on experienced editors and proof readers to pick up my mistakes when my books get close to publication.

Oh and by the way, don’t get me started on the rules of me and I.   Is it bigger than me? Or is it bigger than I (am)?