Leave our language alone – please…..

Good morning! I just had to write this very short post and rant about a news item I saw over the weekend on BBC Breakfast News. Apparently Birmingham City Council wants to drop the use of the apostrophe and is encouraging everyone else to drop it too!

Now given my almost obsessive nature about grammar I was sitting staring at my television in absolute shock and horror. There I was listening to nonsense about dropping the apostrophe from the English language because people didn’t know when to use or not to use it and my jaw was literally dropped open. (Quite a funny sight on a Saturday morning in my PJs I can tell you!)

So I know I have covered this issue in a previous Just Too Busy newsletter, but I think it is apt to include it again. Here goes:

If, like me on occasion, you wonder just where that apostrophe should go or if it is in the right place then these top tips on using apostrophes correctly are just what you need.

The possessive apostrophe!
No, this isn’t about a badly behaved and jealous punctuation mark.  Using apostrophes is where I see the most errors in writing.

So here are your tips:

When, for example, writing about an object that belongs to someone or some thing, the apostrophe should go after that person’s or object’s name, even if the name, object or subject ends in an s – but don’t add another s unless the word or name ends in a double ss. So that is: James’ car, Molly’s house, the dog’s bone, the business’s marketing department.

You don’t need an apostrophe when you use plurals. The most common example of this is when people write about years or decades. I.e. “The 1990’s started out badly for Simon”, or, “It’s not like it was back in the in the 20’s”. You don’t need an apostrophe here – the years don’t possess anything, it is just a plural. There might be exception to this (there usually are in grammar) but I can’t think of one – please let me know if you can!

Finally (and what all the hoo hah is about in Birmingham City Council) the apostrophe in place names.  If, for example, a place is called St.Peter’s then there should be an apostrophe before the final s (as in the first tip) because this is a contraction of St. Peter’s Parish with the Parish being the item/place possessed by St. Peter.

However, the apostrophe is not used in a lot of places, St. Albans and St. Ives, for example, and it also isn’t used in places like Shepherds Bush.  This is because place names can act like nouns and although the area may have been named for a particular shepherd’s bush (a long time ago!) – it has become used as a noun and the usual apostrophe rules need not apply.

However, generally and to be absolutely correct wherever you see St. Peter’s or St. John’s or the like, you should be using an apostrophe especially when it is followed by Road or Church or Hospital etc.

Hope you enjoyed my little grammar rant! If you did and would like more of this sort of information or business info then sign up to the Just Too Busy monthly newsletter and subscribe to this blog.