Don’t agonise over apostrophes – drop the s

Apostrophes are important for meaning in writing. They show ownership or represent missing letters in contractions in informal writing like “isn’t” for “is not”. Correct use of apostrophes does trouble some writers.

If you are agonising over where to put the apostrophe, either before or after an “s” for a noun, consider whether you can rearrange your sentence.

You can avoid apostrophes and drop the s when you are using a word as an adjective, or descriptor, rather than a possessive use to show ownership.

Here are some examples where you can avoid an apostrophe:

  • The leg of the chair means the chair’s leg, which can be simplified to the chair leg.
  • The strategies of the government means the government’s strategies, which can be simplified to government strategies.

Minimising apostrophes is part of the trend to minimal punctuation – only using punctuation where required to clarify meaning.

For instance, apostrophes have not been used in Australian place names since 1966, and are disappearing from plurals in names of organisations and periods of time:

  • Georges River
  • Teachers Federation
  • two months time.

Read a post with lots of apostrophe examples by Paul Doherty here .
(See what I did there: examples of apostrophes = apostrophe examples)

For help on apostrophes in your writing, please contact me at rhdaniels@bigpond.com

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