Getting Naked with the Apostrophe

by Louis of Atlas Signs

Proper use of the apostrophe

Don't Be Afraid

Naked in the sense of honest, upfront, and basic.

Mostly, with signs and plaques, the issue revolves around the use of the lowly and misunderstood apostrophe.

The apostrophe is actually a tyrant and a bully. A bully? Yes because the apostrophe changes everything with one little mark, wielding power that is far out of proportion to its size and apparent importance. See, it is a tyrant too.

Here is a recap of how the apostrophe should be used to show possession.

Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession as in Ms Smith’s home. Names ending in an “s” or “s” sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, but it is the most often used method. Both Mr. Jones’ garden and Mr. Jones’s garden are fine with the second example usually preferable. To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe. As in the Joneses’ garden, or the Smiths’ home. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name. As in the Nelsons have a an historic home. Use an apostrophe and an s after the second name only if two people possess the same item. As in Sally and Jim’s home. And finally, Don’t ever use an apostrophe with his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose. They do not require an apostrophe because the  words already show possession. See! Actually kind of easy and fun when you get the hang of it.

Is the customer always right? No! Yes! Maybe!

But the customer is always the final authority on the text included in signs and plaques created by Atlas Signs and Plaques. Ok, here is the dilemma. How, or even if,  to tell a customer that their punctuation is wrong, or probably wrong, or possibly wrong, or that they should do a little more research before locking in the text.

Most people don’t like to be told that they are wrong, especially if they are right. So what do we do at Atlas? We have to trust that you have done your homework and that what you send is the way you want it. Just be careful about the meaning you intend to convey. There are numerous websites that can help. You can even go to one of our previous blog postings about the apostrophe. But beware, we are experts in several fields and disciplines, but not the English Language. Use this as a starting point, but verify your decision from another source.

We would like to hear about your thoughts and feelings about this post. Just send us an email and we will review with the intent of publishing if we feel it is appropriate. We are not averse to disagreement, and contrasting opinions will not disqualify your comments. We don’t publish links, shouting, vulgar language, or insults, but honor spirited discourse.

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