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Apostrophes indicate possession, not plural

Posted by Maria Murnane | July 20, 2015

The other day I walked by a secondhand store that had a big pile of used books out front. Taped above the stack was a sign that said the following:

Book’s 1$

Ugh. This made me sad, particularly so because they were selling books (not book’s), which are filled with words (not word’s).

I’m not sure how it happened, but the misuse of apostrophes is everywhere these days.

When I see this, I think “the omelette’s what?” The omelette’s price? The omelette’s ingredients?

Here’s a quick refresher course on how to use apostrophes:

Apostrophes denote possession or a contraction

  • This is my friend Gloria’s book (This book belongs to my friend Gloria)
  • Bad grammar is my friend Gloria’s pet peeve (My friend Gloria has a grammar pet peeve)t
  • My friend Gloria’s going to be upset when she sees that sign (My friend Gloria is going to be upset when she sees that sign)

If you want to denote a plural, just add an s

  • These books are for sale
  • The Smiths are on vacation
  • There is one Gloria and three Michaels in my grammar class

Note: Its vs. it’s is a special use case as I explained in my past blog post.

Note: Some English words such as cactus or fungus have plurals that don’t take an s (cacti, fungi), but this is the general rule.

I know grammar is a foreign language to many people, but it’s important to use apostrophes correctly in both your manuscript and your marketing materials if you want to be taken seriously as an author. It may seem like a small thing, but trust me, people notice. Just ask my friend Gloria!






2 Responses to “Apostrophes indicate possession, not plural”

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  • Ron Jameson says:

    Have just been reading about apostrophes and pluralizing with an s.
    Which brings me to ask you – do you know of a plural word, which, when adding an s makes it singular?
    Now there’s a thing!
    I’ll tell you after blogging – I am about to launch my second novel – at 92!
    (the sub-title is “The life and loves of a wartime pilot”
    It’s called “Leopard’s Lair.” My pilot has to deal not only with a dangerous enemy, but two ballet dancers in glorious Kenya.
    Do you dance Maria? I still can Tango!
    ANSWER: Add an s to Princes (Princess).
    Good vibes to you, Maria.



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