Beware of rogue apostrophe’s

Having spent a good bit of the past day travelling on planes, trains and automobiles, I cam across several notices which had experienced serious apostrophe attacks. Here are a few I saw.

Stand back from the platform: beware of train’s
Special offer: pastry’s and cake’s
South carriageway closed tonight due to roadwork’s
Lady’s [toilet]
Turn on car light’s

I have argued previously that it is time to retire the apostrophe. It has ceased to be useful, it’s just annoying now.

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21 Comments on “Beware of rogue apostrophe’s”


  1. Ah, the greengrocer’s apostrophe: “Try our ‘fresh’ banana’s!!!”

  2. Niall. Says:

    My favaouite – there used to be a shop on Patrick’s Hill in Cork called “Tom’s Door’s”.

  3. Wendymr Says:

    The suggested retirement of the apostrophe is an abomination up with which we will not put!

    (Are you also suggesting that the semi-colon has become redundant and that we should no longer care about comma splices?)

  4. no-name Says:

    A sign in one Dublin university: “Sign up Here to find Badmington partner’s.” (And yes, that is how badminton is written on the poster).

    It’s not just the old apostrophe (which has its place and should be kept), but the rampant use of wrongly placed capital letters in the middle of sentences that really bugs me.

  5. Vincent Says:

    How the heck will we recognize foreigners, eh. You do know that they are the only people that ACTUALLY learn where the little spatter’s true cathedra rocks.


  6. Surely this is more of an arguement to always carry some sticky labels and a marker pen so that you can edit any incorrect signs!

  7. Stan Says:

    It’s useful in contractions.

    Contention over the apostrophe’s usefulness, and confusion over its usage, are nothing new. It has pretty much always been an awkward mark, as shown by this short history [PDF].

  8. authenticdasein Says:

    But how, without the apostrophe, would you have made your point so clearly in your very last subclause?!

  9. don Says:

    Id say lets omit all apostrophes and well see if youre understanding what Im saying


  10. The Oatmeal has a poster based on one of his web comics on this subject.
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

  11. cormac Says:

    I don’t think the misuse of something is good grounds for getting rid of it altogether. It seems to me that apstrophes, and other grammatical constructs, are important because they help keep things clear – which is what good writing is all about. Try writing a post without apostrophes and see how it goes!

    My current favourites are
    Black ladys bicycle for sale
    Extra marital sex
    Fan’s fury at teams defeat

  12. cormac Says:

    P.S. According to Lynn Truss, the dreaded greengrocer’s apostrophe (apple’s and orange’s) has its origins in an old rule of grammar, which stated that foreign words such as zucchinni should be bracketed by inverted commas. This got corrupted to a single apostrophe and then spread to all vegetables and fruit!

  13. cormac Says:

    Tnx Anna! I like Truss’s hypothesis, but I haven’t seen any evidence that the rule existed..

  14. Feikles75 Says:

    Im speechless. This is a superb blog and very enticing too. Great work! Thats not in point of fact so much coming from an amateur publisher like me, however its all I may say after diving into your posts. Nice grammar and vocabulary. No longer like other blogs. You really recognize what you?re speaking approximately too. So much that you just made me want to explore more. Your weblog has grow to be a stepping stone for me, my friend.

  15. Denis Murphy Says:

    There’s a wonderful sign in Laghy that draws attention to a nearby hardware shop, going something like this:

    Lawnmower’s
    Chainsaw’s
    (and then, inexplicably)
    Strimmers

  16. Dan Says:

    I’m just puzzled, Ferdinand, why you spelled the word ‘came’ without an ‘e’ in the first sentence – and indeed, why nobody else has commented on this?

    Perhaps I am just being pedantic about spelling and grammar?😉

  17. Isabelle Says:

    Nice sign with wandering apostrophes, spotted in Mullingar :

    The wandering apostrophe


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