Unnecessary apostrophes are one of the things that drive me crazy.
I mostly see it in cases of plurals. Some people seem to think that every word that ends in an “s” needs an apostrophe. This is not the case. Plurals do not need apostrophes. Apostrophes show possession. (In other words, that someone owns something.)
- On a menu: “Taco Tuesday’s” – Does something belong to Taco Tuesday? No. What they want to say is that every Tuesday is a Taco Tuesday. Then it should just be “Taco Tuesdays”
- A store window boasting of its “selection of shoe’s” – This one just plain doesn’t make any sense. Plurals don’t need apostrophes!
Similarly, dates don’t need apostrophes. If you want to talk about 80s music or fashion in the 1900s, no apostrophe is needed. (Apostrophes would also indicate that music is describing 80s and not the other way around, which would just make the sentence confusing.)
Another common error is it’s and its. You might be thinking, that because I just described how an apostrophe shows possession, that “it’s” must be possessive. Well, no. It’s is a contraction for “it is,” and its is possessive, as in “the fox went into its burrow.”
Using the wrong its/it’s also results in odd sentences, like a advertisement extolling “Dining at it’s best!” (Dining at it is best.)
While I’m at it, you’re/your is also a very common mistake. Your is possessive, and you’re is a contraction for you are.
- You’re going to have so much fun at Disneyland!
- Your souvenirs from Disneyland are really cool.
And how about there/their/they’re. There is an adverb, describing where. Their is possessive. They’re is a contraction of they are.
- I want to sit over there to eat.
- You better not mess with their stuff.
- They’re going to the beach for the Fourth of July.
I’m done ranting now. Hopefully I have spread some minute amount of knowledge about my beloved mother tongue.
My examples are from Apostrophe Abuse, a website for posting pictures of incorrectly used (or unused) apostrophes.
Then there’s this person, who thinks apostrophes should be abolished altogether. It’s a blog called applecopywriting. However, as his or her reasoning is linguistically sound, I read this article with horrified fascination. Against my will, I can almost imagine a world without apostrophes.