Editing for Grammarphobes: Apostrophes Gone Wild


I see this error every day, and it makes me cry inside. Perhaps grammar teachers are trying, but no one is listening. Let’s face it. Grammar is not sexy, but without its proper usage, a Rhodes scholar can look like a middle school dropout.

How many of you spotted this egregious error polluting otherwise festive holiday cards? What is wrong with the following line?

Season’s Greetings from The Idiot’s

Written as it is, the statement begs for the question “Idiot’s what?” The Idiot’s dog? The Idiot’s island vacation? Neither a dog, nor an island can convey wishes. This merry signature is a victim of apostrophes gone wild.

I’ve mentioned this problem before, early on, but it needs to be covered repeatedly and illustrated in its various ways. The line should read as follows.

Season’s Greetings from The Idiots

No apostrophe. It is a plural form of the last name Idiot and assumes there is more than one Idiot in said family. Otherwise, it would be signed liked this.

Season’s Greetings from Bob Idiot

Have you spotted any apostrophes gone wild? Please share them in the comments section, along with any editing questions you might have. I will incorporate your responses in future “Editing for Grammarphobes” posts.


Selena said…
My son used to bring home his menu from school with the following each week. It drove me insane! I even circled it and sent it back one time I was so disgusted that the private school I was paying for couldn't proofread the grammar in things they sent home.

Thursday: Taco's with meat and cheese

It brought the grammar Nazi out in this English teacher every time!

Love your site!

Thanks so much, Selena.

That would drive me crazy too.
Kae said…
I often see an apostrophe in a date, i.e. the 1980's. As you said, the 1980's what? It should be 1980s.
You are correct, Kae. I see that all of the time as well.

Thanks for reading.
Karen, I SO agree with you. It is a pet peeve of mine too, especially after receiving Christmas cards with signatures such as you cited. I had thought about blogging about it but you beat me to it. Glad to see someone else feels the way I do. What's so difficult about plural versus possessive? I'll save the rest of my rants for later.

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