Over the past 24 hours, news outlets have featured a story about the closing of the Apostrophe Protection Society, whose founder, John Richards, wrote, “We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!” I say they have not. (I also say that Mr. Richards’ sentence could use a comma before the conjunction but, but this post is about apostrophes.)
What do you say?
My readers–and students in my Punctuation for Professionals online, self-study course–are very careful with their use of the apostrophe. They ask great questions about correct usage. They send me photos of signs that require a correction. They question the suggestions of their grammar and spelling checkers. They try hard and usually succeed.
Test yourself on these 10 signs. Are they correct, or do they need an apostrophe fix? Compare your answers with mine, which appear beneath the test.
1. Correct or incorrect?
2. Correct or incorrect as an abbreviation for Garfinkel’s?
3. Correct or incorrect? It traces back to the Sotheby family.
4. Correct or incorrect as a business sign?
5. Correct or incorrect?
6. Correct or incorrect?
7. Correct or incorrect?
8. Correct or incorrect?
9. Correct or incorrect?
10. Correct or incorrect: Black’s Pub?
Below are my responses and explanations.
1. Wednesday’s is incorrect. It should be the simple plural Wednesdays. In contrast, “Wednesday’s class has been canceled” would be correct because it would be the class of Wednesday–Wednesday’s class.
2. As an abbreviation for Garfinkel’s, Garfs is incorrect. It should be the possessive Garf’s.
3. Correct. The company of the Sotheby family is Sotheby’s.
4. No! No! No! Incorrect, of course. This sign should include the simple plurals Spas & Pools.
5. Correct. The bonus day for seniors is Seniors’ Bonus Day.
6. Incorrect–assuming that the restaurant is named after Earl. If it is, it should be Earl’s.
7. Incorrect. Womens always needs an apostrophe. The singular is woman, the plural is women, and the plural possessive is women’s.
8. Incorrect. The possessive pet’s belongs with poop.
9. Incorrect. These cards are for the pastors, a simple plural.
10. Correct. The pub named for an individual called Black is Black’s Pub.
How did you do? Did you prove Mr. Richards (not Richards’!) wrong? If you need more practice, take our unbeatable course Punctuation for Professionals.