Misuse of the Apostrophe

Misuse of the Apostrophe

          One very common error in print is the misuse of the apostrophe. The apostrophe causes confusion because of its multiple purposes. While an apostrophe is often used to symbolize possessiveness (like “Eric’s toy”), it also serves as a connector in conjunctions (such as “don’t”).

          Below are multiple apostrophe errors which Professor Delahoyde has tracked down from various printed sources. Scroll down and learn something!

          Let’s start with the most common apostrophe error, that of the “it’s” dilemma. While the word “it’s” is a word, it can not be used as the possessive form of “it”. Instead, “it’s” refers to the conjunction of the two words “it” and “is”. The possessive form of “it” is simply “its”, without the apostrophe.

(drag the mouse over the picture to reveal the errors)

          Much like in the “it’s” dilemma above, the apostrophes in the words “their’s” and “our’s” are used in an attempt to convey possessiveness. The correct possessive forms of the terms “their” and “our” are “theirs” and “ours”.

          In this next case, both “it’s” and “hat’s” are used incorrectly. While the “it’s” dilemma helps explain the possessive problem of “it’s”, the “hat’s” error is caused by the use of the apostrophe to pluralize the word “hat”, when of course, the actual plural form of the word is “hats”, with no apostrophe

          The following print errors are a result of the same problem as the “hat’s” error. The plural forms of the terms need no apostrophes.