Append That Apostrophe!
“Its too late to go out now.”
People who care about language grind their teeth when they see apostrophe errors like these. Yet I see this kind of mistake in many writing samples I receive before my writing trainings. Intelligent, educated people make ignorant errors. Is it because people don’t know the rules, or because they don’t proofread? I don’t know, which is another way of saying, I do not know. Regardless of the reason, errors in apostrophe use detract from your professionalism and cut into your credibility. You never know when you might be writing to a curmudgeon who will throw out the whole message because you wrote, “your welcome”. So let’s quickly go over the essence of apostrophes.
Apostrophes show possession or contraction. That’s it. They do NOT mark plurals.
PossessionThat is John’s book. The company’s annual report just came out.
ContractionThe apostrophe shows where letters or numbers have been omitted.
He doesn’t work on Thursdays. I’m not sure what you mean. You’re welcome
They met in the ‘90s. [Note that the apostrophe goes BEFORE the number, to show that the numbers 19have been omitted. It is a plural, so there is no apostrophe before the s.]
It’s and Its: A Common Confusion
Errors abound over this simple distinction.
Its is a pronoun meaning belonging to it.
The Post Office raised its rates. The company issued its report.
It’s is a contraction of the words it is or it has.
It's wintertime now. It's been a year since we heard from them.
So if you are ever wondering whether to use its or it’s, just ask yourself this: What am I trying to say? Belonging to it? Use its. It is? Use it’s.
Why are people so often confused about its and it’s?The word its is possessive. But wait – didn’t we just say that apostrophes show possession? Here is where I think people become confused about its and it’s. They instinctively know the apostrophe shows possession, so they throw in an apostrophe when they meanbelonging to it.
However, English grammar is not so straightforward. The apostrophe shows possession in nouns. There is no apostrophe in possessive pronouns such as his, hers, theirs, and yours. Its is a possessive pronoun, and therefore takes no apostrophe when showing possession.
Their/They're/There: What’s the difference?
When people write in a rush, they often stumble over words that sound alike but have different meanings. Proofread everything and you will not confuse these words.
Their means belonging to them.
They’re is a contraction meaning they are.
There means in or at that place.
They’re going to leave their briefcases there.
Your welcome/You’re welcome
In almost every case, when you write you’re welcome, you mean you are welcome. Thus, get in the habit of using the apostrophe. If you wanted to be extremely polite, you might write a sentence like,
Thank you for the invitation to your home for the weekend. Your welcome was most gracious.
However, that will be a rare thank-you note to write.
Just remember, though, that apostrophes never mark plurals. So all those signs you have seen that sayorganic salad’s, and 90’s hits and vendor’s register here are just plain wrong. Use apostrophes for possessive nouns and for contractions, and you will not go wrong.
Bonus Quiz with PrizeIf you can correct all these sentences properly, I will send you a bonus report on Commonly Misused Words and phrases.
1. Your welcome to stop by the office any time.
2. They said its due to a late payment.
3. What company get’s upset when your paying them?
4. There were many Vendor’s to pay.
5. Employees needs are usually met.
6. Please let us know who you wish to pay for this weeks check run.
7. The bank is in receipt of A/R Aging's (as of 1/9/15) and A/P Aging's (dated 12/31/14).
8. Please see below for discussion of BORROWER and GUARANTOR cash flows' and attached Global worksheet.
Good luck! I look forward to hearing from you. You can also hit reply to this email and I will receive your responses.
© Elizabeth Danziger 2015