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Monday, July 02, 2007

Back to my beloved apostrophe

As some of you know, I have a great love for the apostrophe. If not, you can read up here. I think the apostrophe is one of the most viciously abused parts of written English. I don't mention it often, even though I find evidence of the abuse daily. However, today, my beloved Chip mentioned the misuse of its/it's and your/you're as being one of the writing errors that drive him crazy. I found my apostrophe passion flare up again, knowing that someone I respect shares my love.

Okay, so he's probably not sitting up late at night writing odes to the apostrophe. But hey, let me enjoy my moment. :)

I just do not understand how a company can pay hundreds, thousands, even millions, of dollars for an ad and NOT have someone smart enough on staff to catch an incorrectly used apostrophe.

What are people learning in school these days? Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. My daughter came home a month before school ended with a note saying she'd have no more homework and all of our at-home enrichment activities could be stopped for the year. She had a month left! What are they doing? Well, I'll tell you what they were doing. They had Clifford Day, Firefighter Day, Play in the water Day, Pick their noses Day, Scooby Doo Day, Run around like Idiots Day... okay, so I made some of those up. But I'm not off by much.

I understand some of the values the schools are trying to teach. However, let's be clear here. I am the mom. I teach my kids values. They can get Clifford, Scooby Doo, Play in the water, Nose picking, running around like idiots, and yes, even firefighters (my BIL is one), at home. The school is responsible for teaching my kids things like math, science, and GRAMMAR. My high schooler does not need six credit hours of "free to be me." She needs more grammar. I don't think I've seen anyone her age ever use an apostrophe where one was clearly needed. I'd say the same for the college kid, however, instead of "free to be me," he's getting "how to kill terrorists." I'm fine with that. Military school rocks. If you can't use an apostrophe, go fight al-Qaida. You don't need apostrophes for that.


If you are writing copy for ads or anything else intended for public consumption, do NOT irritate me with apostrophes unused or misplaced. They are a treasured part of the writing fabric of our language, and I cannot bear to watch them be abused. So please. PLEASE! PLEASE!!! (At the risk of irritating my beloved Chip, although to my knowledge, he does not read this blog. However, if you do read this, please accept my apologies. I know of no other way to express my deeply held passion) Where was I? Oh yes, pleading with the masses. There's an old adage that says, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all." (And, because I haven't promoted it yet, on Todd Agnew's new album, he's got a wonderful song called Don't say a word). So, if you don't know how to use an apostrophe, DON'T write at all. Or at least avoid words that may need an apostrophe, but you're not sure. For example, I just wrote you're. If you were writing that and didn't know whether or not to use an apostrophe, you could have just written, you are not sure. Slightly awkward, but at least it's correct. Better yet, go read a grammar book. Or two. Or three. Or, if you're really lazy, GOOGLE IT!

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