Posted by: episystechpubs | March 15, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Apostrophes, Part I

Good morning, folks!

I still see a lot of apostrophe problems in documents I receive and it pains me…mostly because I can tell that you are trying really hard to do things correctly. It’s almost as if some rules flip-flopped as they crossed through your brain; I know it’s happened to me.

Here is the first part of an article from Daily Writing Tips to help everyone with apostrophes.

Apostrophe Errors to Avoid

1. With Plurals
Writing the plural form of a noun in which an apostrophe precedes the plural s, such as when taxi’s is written instead if taxis, is a common error. (This mistake is known as a greengrocer’s apostrophe due to its ubiquity in hand-written—and even printed—store signs.)

2. With Pronouns
Pronouns are followed by an apostrophe and s only as contractions (for example, he’s). Possessive pronouns (such as theirs and yours) never include an apostrophe.

3. With Shared Possession
When two or more people or other entities are described as separately owning something, each name should be in possessive form: “John’s and Jane’s houses are the same color.” But when they share possession, include an apostrophe and an s after the last name only: “John and Jane’s house is just down the block.”

4. With the Possessive Form of a Surname
That shingle on your neighbor’s porch should not read, “The Brown’s house,” unless your neighbor’s legal name is “the Brown.” A sign identifying the residence of the Browns should read “The Browns’ house” (or simply “The Browns”).

5. With the Plural Form of an Abbreviation
No apostrophe is required with plurals of abbreviations. Write, for example, “They disarmed or detonated several IEDs” (not IED’s).

6. With the Plural Form of a Numeral
In the rare case of indicating more than one instance of a numeral, do not use an apostrophe: “Write three 7s on a piece of paper” (not 7’s).

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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