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.

Grammar Giggle – NFL News

A local newspaper was apparently so intent on getting news out about rumors of a possible NFL trade that they forgot to read the news story. Here is just one paragraph of that story that I found three errors in–and I’m not even a real football fan!

Grammar Giggle – Accessaries

This was on a box in a package I received from something I had ordered on Amazon. I try to have lots of grace with things that aren’t spelled correctly according to American style in another country, but if merchandise from another country is being shipped for sale here in America, I think they need to take the extra time to make sure the instructions make sense and the packaging is correct. The reverse is also true–if an American is selling products in other countries, they should make sure that the instructions and packaging make sense in the country where they are marketing their merchandise.

Grammar Giggle – Before Or After?

I saw this online in a breaking news alert for a local television station. It was confusing because the breaking news headline said the shooting occurred “before” the car crashed (and they also used an unnecessary comma), but when I clicked on the actual news story, that headline said the shooting occurred “after” the car crashed. This is an example of why it is important to actually read what you’re writing and not trust that even if everything is spelled correctly, it is correct.

Grammar Giggle – No, You’re Nuts!

I saw this sign recently on a TikTok and couldn’t resist. This is a very common error. Just remember that “your” is something belonging to YOU, while “you’re” is a contraction for YOU ARE. Replace the word in question with “you are” and you’ll see that that is the one that works. Unless, of course, you are talking about the nuts that belong to you–which doesn’t make any sense. LOL!