Okay, I have no idea whether zombies like apostrophes. But because everyone appreciated last week’s “Passive Voice and Zombies” so much, I thought I’d do another grammar-made-simple post.
This one is about apostrophes. They’re actually simple.
Ownership: We all know that apostrophes show ownership.
Singular Nouns: You take a singular noun and slap ’s on the end. (Even if the noun ends in an s.)
The zombie’s leg is broken.
The bass’s fin was torn. (Yeah, it looks dumb. But it’s correct.)
There are a few exceptions—most you will never run into unless, like me, you are a copy editor. And even if you do, most people don’t know the rule, so no worries.
However, one exception you might see is in traditional phrases.
For goodness’ sake
For Jesus’ sake
But, Jesus’s apostles. (Yep, looks weird. But it’s correct.)
However, if it looks too weird or you’re not sure, just reword it. (You don’t get extra points in life for knowing weird grammar rules.)
The apostles of Jesus… The fin of the bass…
Plural Nouns: With a plural noun ending in s, all you do is add an apostrophe.
Example: The zombies’ arms were missing.
With plural nouns not ending in s, just add ’s.
The children’s beds were not made. (Hmm. Sounds like our house.)
Once again there are some unusual exceptions. If you’re not sure or it looks weird, just reword it. The bottom line is while you may know the grammatical rule, if the word looks odd and draws the reader out of the text, you’ve failed. The point of style and grammar is readability. Period.
Use an apostrophe to show where letters have been omitted.
Don’t (do not). Simple.
It’s (it is). You never use an apostrophe with the possessive pronoun its. Possessive pronouns never take apostrophes. (Remember: you’d never write hi’s for his.)
The ’90s. The apostrophe goes before the 9 because there are numbers missing. It’s an abbreviation. Easy-peasy.
If you write, please note that the apostrophe always is open. It looks like this ’. When you’re typing in Word and a word starts with an apostrophe, Word will make it look like this ‘. But that is wrong—that’s a single quotation mark, not an apostrophe. ’Tis a night for zombies. Not, ‘Tis a night…