Friday, December 19, 2008

Let's get it right

It's incredibly frustrating to see someone write "1970's." Or "lets play ball." Or "Cleveland rock's." Or "Its a Wonderful Life."

The above should, of course, be written as: "1970s," "let's play ball," "Cleveland rocks" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

The improper use of commas is prevalent -- and it's getting worse, particularly as so many people think apostrophe-S makes a plural word. They can be tricky, but it's really not that difficult to use them properly. The easiest way to remember the proper use of apostrophes is that they are used to denote possession or exclusion.

To explain a couple of the examples found above:
  • Its is possessive, while It's is the contraction of It and Is (It is a wonderful life).
  • Lets (allows) and Let's (the contraction of "let us," as in "let us play ball).
Just think of it this way:
  • If you are removing letters, use an apostrophe in their place (let 'er rip, rock 'n' roll).
  • If you are writing the possessive form of a singular word, add apostrophe-S (Cleveland's airport, Ohio's embarrassment).
  • To make a plural word possessive, add the apostrophe after the S (Residents' anger, parents' pride).
And if you are simply making a word plural, just add an S.

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