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 Definition Sign marking absence of a letter and, in English, possessive case. [d] [e]
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 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Apostrophe abuse

If this article requires evidence for any claim about passions running high or tempers frayed over 'apostrophe abuse', I recommend this story from the UK tabloid press. I have to admit, I sympathise with him... John Stephenson 11:38, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

In German the genitive has no apostrophe, however, it is often used. The (unfortunate :-( orthography reform allows it for proper names. But it often is misused ("idiot's apostrophe") like in "Snack's" as inscription for a little bar. Peter Schmitt 12:23, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I miss any discussion of the historical origins of the apostrophe. Although I am no linguist, I have always understood that the possessive apostrophe in English is derived from the old form "Martin his book", with the apostrophe indicating the omission of "hi" and the merging of the s with the noun. Doubtless there are many other explanations of these contracted forms, and it would be not only interesting but also helpful to know about them. Similarly with the circumflex in French...Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:07, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, a history section would be useful. I too recall 'Martin his book'. Ro Thorpe 18:31, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

American abuse

If you drive through the "Merkin countryside and suburbs, you will see, out of a thousand homes, 500 of them with the name of the owners on the mailbox. Out of the 500, 450 will read something like "The Bailey's" or "The Peirce's" or "The Thorpe's". I have had arguments with people who have gone to four years of college (university) and don't see anything wrong with this. Hayford Peirce 18:29, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

It happens all over the world, but perhaps only in America do you find people who are willing to defend it. Ro Thorpe 18:40, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, I know that the french like to put apostrophes here and there into odd words (in commercial usage) to make it look more chic, I suppose. I'm sure you've seen a thousand examples of it. Hayford Peirce 18:47, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Even better are the ones owned by families whose names already end in an "s", e.g. "The Jone's". Bruce M. Tindall 19:09, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Hehe! Hayford Peirce 19:25, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
My father so fretted over this that he has two placards: "The Jones'" and "The Jones's". Of course, CMOS is particularly clear on the point about which is rendered in the correct style. This is Jones's post 19:14, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Double hehe! Hayford Peirce 19:25, 10 October 2010 (UTC)


If you look at a photographic reproduction of the Shakespeare First Folio, e.g. [1], you'll find that in those days apostrophes were used only for contractions, not for genitives.

Note that there's another meaning of this word, where an author addresses one of their characters. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:38, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

'Twas all a bit anarchick in Shakspears time. Yes, the other meaning of apostrophe should go in the introduction, at the end, perhaps. Ro Thorpe (talk) 15:31, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Stop apostrophising us, please! Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:26, 30 January 2016 (UTC)