Apostrophe Catastrophes

Apostrophes do not indicate plurals! I don’t understand why this is so difficult to grasp, as it seems to be one of the easier grammar/punctuation rules to obey, yet it also seems to be the one that’s broken the most.

I’ve also noticed many a freelance writer new to the business improperly using apostrophes for possessive pronouns or noun plurals (i.e. her’s is wrong; hers is correct). The information below is from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab.

Don’t use apostrophes for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals.

Apostrophes should not be used with possessive pronouns because possessive pronouns already show possession — they don’t need an apostrophe. His, her, its, my, yours, ours are all possessive pronouns.

Here are some helpful rules from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University:

The apostrophe has three uses:

1) to form possessives of nouns
2) to show the omission of letters
3) to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters.

Apostrophes are NOT used for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals, including acronyms.

Why the rant on apostrophes? Well, the misuse doesn’t even usually have a pattern– it’s so random that it’s obvious that half the time the people who are doing it don’t even really care… it’s more of a lazy habit, peppering writing with apostrophes. I hope this information helps someone!


I'm a wife and mommy first, as well as a social media consultant/manager, editor, and writer. I'm also editor of Musical Reviewer and Houston Theatre Blog.

3 comments on “Apostrophe Catastrophes
  1. Hi Julia

    “..peppering writing with apostrophes”… I love it! Great heading too!
    The Purdue Lab is an excellent resource. 🙂


  2. Jennifer Stewart has an article at Write101.com about apostrophes. “This poor little pet is the most abused punctuation mark in the language…”

    You’re both right. I don’t understand why apostrophes seem so hard for so many people.

    I saw a similar article on another blog recently (sorry I can’t remember where it was) that showed grocery store signs using apostrophes in plurals. The problem is everywhere!

  3. Great article. I would love to hear/see your thoughts on hyphens, slashes, colons, bold letters, and italics. Please add to your “Catastrophes” articles.

    Thank you,
    Chris Denny

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