The Much Abused Apostrophe

Lynne Truss gave it the most apt of descriptions – a “satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes.” Her example was different but couldn’t have been more hilariously striking than this blue-bordered one-liner in today’s Ottawa Citizen’s proud full page ad for Real Canadian Superstore:


Seeing full page ads in any newspaper is a happy occasion nowadays for those of us who cling to the timeless custom of daily subscriptions and faithful perusing of its contents from cover to cover. No question that such advertising spreads catch the eye of even the least fervid of shoppers.

But there is a price to be paid for thus snaring the consumer – beware of dumb and silly mistakes in whatever you choose to print.

Reading all the way to the bottom of a full page ad may well be an uncommon experience but on this occasion it was probably fated to happen. Fact is that lately I have been re-reading that delightful British #1 best bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss’s witty exposition of what she calls “the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.” Her book is chock full of bizarre but all too familiar examples of the savagery with which countless offences against the fundamentals of English grammar are committed in everyday parlance and publishing.

Putting apostrophes where they don’t belong may be one of the least forgivable of such transgressions. It’s almost as bad as the nearly universal ignorance of the difference between it’s and its!

(Just a moment – my Word spell checker dared to tell me I had to change that it’s to its. No wonder the world’s ignorance so easily thrives!)

If only everyone understood that it’s is merely another way of saying it is. However its denotes possession just like his and her. Oh well, enough about grammar.

But please, let’s not let advertisers get us sticklers on their backs when they should really know better.

Or maybe just hire a copy editor!

2 thoughts on “The Much Abused Apostrophe

  1. Freeman

    “Putting apostrophes where they don’t below” !!!!!!

    Spell check – maybe not!!!

    Typo – possibly!!!

    Nix – keep blogging, love your posts.

    1. Nix Post author

      blind editing does it. have corrected. will aim to keep eyes open next time. Thanks. You are my most faithful fan!


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