The Unheard Cries of A Misplaced Apostrophe by Felix O’Shea


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Posted on January 18, 2013

Poor little apostrophe. He knows his place, and more importantly, he knows when he’s not in it. Some, or all, will say that it isn’t really too important, and that as long as you get the gist of what is meant, then the grammatical semantics of the written word can probably fall by the wayside. However, if the boat of proper grammar truly is sinking, then I would rather let the weight of a million neglected semi-colons and brackets pull me down to the dreary depths of the abyss, than abandon ship and take refuge upon the misplaced and miserable apostrophe that hangs lifeless between the O and the S in the word: photo’s, or cling to safety upon the second f in the word of.

Now in writing this, I just want to assure anyone reading that I am not trying to seem patronising, nor am I pretending to be an expert; I can assure you that I’m not! I do, on occasion, get quite baffled with so many of the finer and seemingly more insignificant points of english grammar: a possessive of a plural, apostrophes on names that already end in ‘s‘, and so on, but what I’m trying to speak in favour of is the feeling that you needn’t be wrong, it doesn’t take that much effort to look it up and, let’s be honest, abbreviating and misspelling words in text messages really doesn’t save that much time!

Also, since I mentioned saving time, I may as well have a quick rant about how utterly, utterly stupid it is to replace a few letters with a number, or a word with a letter. I will of course concede that great is indeed two characters longer than gr8, and that if someone wrote b4 in a certain context, I would be able to deduce that they meant before; and I dare say that if ever I read “U R L8!”, I would probably be able to extract the meaning of that as well, albeit amidst a flurry of rage; but are we really in such a hurry all the time that we just can’t spare the fraction of a second lost by writing you’re instead of ure? It’s trying to look cool, because people think proper English isn’t. It’s the grammatical equivalent of wearing sunglasses at night.

There are a lot of aspects of our fine language that can baffle some, for instance the eternal battle between then and than (simple answer: then is chronological; than is comparitive. E.g. I grabbed the chicken nugget that was bigger than all the rest, and then I ate it.), and I understand that it is an effort to remember it all, but it simply pains me to see people who lack the linguistic skills to convey their points; and it makes me sad, because I know that joy that it brings me to properly convey my own.

Always remember, a well placed apostrophe is a happy apostrophe; and you’re never too busy to write a legible text message.

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