Apostrophe Decision Chart

After a recent Proof That blog post about apostrophes and plurals, I had someone ask the question about words that end in “s” and how you make those words possessive. As much as I see it done wrong and as many questions as I get regarding plurals vs. possessives, I know it is a difficult concept to grasp, so I introduce an Apostrophe Decision Chart! You just check the boxes that answer the question about what you’re trying to do and it will help you decide if your word is possessive and needs an apostrophe, is a plural, or just needs to be left alone. There are several articles and Grammar Giggles on Proof That blog about apostrophes, possessives, and plurals, including one of the very first blog posts “Apostrophail.” You can search proofthatblog.com in the search box on the right-hand side of the home page for other articles about apostrophes and other topics you may be struggling with. But for this Apostrophe Decision Chart, let me know if it helps you or if it just complicates things for you. Everyone learns differently and my hope is that this will help those who need it to have an easier time figuring out whether or not to use an apostrophe and then how to use the apostrophe if one is needed. The Apostrophe Decision Chart is located in the Files section of proofthatblog.com or click here.

“Apostrophe, Brunswick Centre, London WC1” by Kake . is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Grammar Giggle – Slow Down And Get It Right

I think news outlets are the worst at trying to get news headlines out quickly so they can beat their competition to it, but that sometimes leads to mistakes that shouldn’t be made. In this case, it looks to me like the headline was edited, but they didn’t edit the entire headline–just replaced one phrase with another, but didn’t remove all of the pieces of the replaced phrase. You will be amazed at how much the quality of your writing will improve if you will just slow down and actually read what you are writing.

Grammar Giggle – Envelop/Envelope

A reader sent this one to me. It took some researching for me to confirm that the warm water would “envelop” your body. Here is the Merriam Webster online dictionary definition of “envelop” and “envelope”

  • Envelop – transitive verb
    • 1: to enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering
  • Envelope – noun
    • 2: something that envelops: WRAPPER
      • the envelope of air around the earth

A transitive verb is defined as “a verb that requires a direct object, which is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that follows the verb and completes the sentence’s meaning by indicating the person or thing that receives the action of the verb.”

In this example, you are talking about the action the water takes on your body (direct object, which is a noun). Envelop is the correct word here because it will “enclose or enfold completely with or as if with a covering.”

Grammar Giggle – Apostrophes and Plurals

This example illustrates my pet peeve–using apostrophes to make a word plural. This was in our local Motor Vehicle Division office where I was renewing my driver’s license. They used the apostrophe incorrectly not once, but twice! Let me say this again, louder for the people in the back: You do not use an apostrophe to make a word plural. You only need the letters “s” or “es” for that depending on the word. You use an apostrophe only for showing possession or in a contraction to show where a letter or letters have been left out. If you have questions about that, check out Astrophail!

Grammar Giggle – Happy Monther’s Day!

A friend sent this to me and then I saw it over and over again in Facebook ads–always spelled this way. My friend wondered if the editor of the ad had trouble with their own mother and wasn’t sure if it should be “Monster” or “Mother,” so they combined it.