Know your sh*t part 1: The Apostrophe

Know your sh*t part 1: The Apostrophe Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

One of my favourite Twitter hashtags is #pedantsarewe.

I went to a school that had Grammar in the title. Every Wednesday we had a grammar test, so that by age 11 I knew my possessive from my indirect object pronouns and could even recognise a transferred epithet.

As someone who now writes for a living, I’m grateful. However, one of the side effects is that I am conditioned to be overly sensitive to the misuse of the apostrophe.

“Good punctuation is the difference between a business that knows its sh*t and a business that knows it’s sh*t”

I’m not sure whether I’m writing this post to educate, to show off or just as therapy for the rage – but if you’ve ever wondered how the hell to use an apostrophe, allow me to explain.

1 To indicate a missing letter or four (like a wee flag)

  • it is > it’s
  • there is > there’s
  • who is > who’s
  • you are > you’re
  • it has > it’s
  • I can not > I can’t
  • it would > it’d

2 To show who it belongs to

  • Kim’s pedantic post > the pedantic post belonging to Kim
  • Clients’ sighs of relief > the sighs of relief of the clients                                                                                                                (note this is the plural. If only one client was sighing it would be client’s)


See how simple grammar can be? Oh, wait, there is always an exception to prove the rule.

*  ITS  *

This is the one that always catches people out. Due to the fact that the apostrophe could be used together with it and s for either of the two rules, someone powerful decided that when something belongs to “it” there will be no apostrophe

  • What is that thing? Is that its head? > rule 2
  • No, that’s its eye, it’s huge > rule 1 and 2

Phew. And now I can sleep. Please feel free to use the comments section for self-help, to air frustrations, to post pictures of misused apostrophes or to ask for clarification if you genuinely have an interest in learning about grammar.

Next week: homonyms 😀


1 Comment

  1. Impact Online Know you're sh*t part 2: Homophones - Impact Online
    September 22, 2015

    […] the TEFL student to the careless tweeter. While these mistakes don’t upset me as much as the misused apostrophe, they will earn you “a slap upside the head” should Thea Newcomb ever catch you at […]


Leave a Reply to Impact Online Know you're sh*t part 2: Homophones - Impact Online

Cancel Reply