Apostrophe Protection Society

Ranging a little far afield today, but what is it about apostrophes? The rules for their use are simple yet a fair chunk of the human race seems incapable of learning them. The UK has the delightful Apostrophe Protection Society to whom I am indebted for the following:

1. They are used to denote a missing letter or letters
2. They are used to denote possession
3. Apostrophes are NEVER ever used to denote plurals!

That's it.

Most IT people seem to handle the simple plural, unlike the grocer advertising "apple's" but I regularly see the abuse of plurals of acronyms, e.g. "CMDB's". We can can get Word to format two pages differently and we can't understand this simple rule? What is it? Just because they are little doesn't mean they aren't worthy of respect.


what about french

Hi Skep,

Agree, but you must try french one day. I'm english and have been living in belgium since kindergarten (30+ years).
And I can tell you that french is no easy language. In english, you have certain exceptions (e.g. one sheap, two sheap). In french, there are hundreds of exceptions and all kinds of accents (é, è, ê, ë, û, ü, ö, ç): example, Christmas = Nôel.
Verbe conjugation is a nightmare. Even explaning the principals is hectic, avoiding all the exceptions...

Furthermore, living in Belgium, you need to speak 3 languages to work in the big companies: french and dutch (national langages) and english(international). So, for example, on a daily basis , I write "address" with 2 "dd" and 2 "ss" in english, "adresse" with one "d" and 2 "ss" in french and "adres" with one "d" and one "s" in dutch. Did you follow ;-)

Keep up the blog,
A belgium fan.

Try Finnish

Yes French spelling is difficult but think about Finnish grammar. Nouns have at least 17 cases. The main cases are: Nominatiivi, Genetiivi, Akkusatiivi, Partitiivi, Essiivi, Translatiivi, Abessiivi, Komitatiivi, Instruktiivi, Inessiivi, Elatiivi, Illatiivi, Adessiivi, Ablatiivi, Allatiivi. The you need to consider the subjects: me, you, he, us, we, you, they. They are all different.

You cannot imagine how annoying it is when Finnish speaking foreigners mix these all the time. For example elatiivi and ablatiivi are often mixed (from outside of the house – from inside of the house = talolta - talosta). From inside of my house is talostani, outside of Skep’s house is talostaan. (You may also guess that meeting a Finnish speaking foreigner is a fairly rare incident. :-)

A verb in Finnish has theoretically 12.000 different forms. Not all are in use but a spelling program needs to recognize all. I’ll save you from examples. The only positive side is that the grammar is pretty regular and Word spelling check works quite well.


Try Kiwi

Kiwi is much easier.

It is derivative of English, it is all monosyllabic, there are only two vowels, no cases, and spelling is freeform.


of course, everyone read "sheep" and not "sheap" ;-)


Dutch people prefer "Cheap";-)

Not so simple

I wish it were that simple. Various grammarians and style guides have advocated using the apostrophe to designate plurals of initialisms. They based their decision on the rule about appostrophes for plurals of the letter A, for example, "I have three A's on my report card" so the reader doesn't misunderstand it as the word As. Good grief! But the grammarians and style guides are slowly coming around. My favorite apostrophe-related photo is one that showed two bookstore signs. One read "DVD's" and the other read "CDs".

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