Let's talk punctuation


Let's talk punctuation

Hello there. My name is apostrophe. Unlike other proper nouns, my name does not start with a capital letter, unless I start a sentence off.

Truth to tell, I am not a name at all. Just a small squiggly, punctuation mark. I look almost like the comma’s identical twin, only I mostly appear at the top of a sentence between letters, and not at the bottom after a word, like the comma. In a way you can also describe me as the poor cousin of comma who has already appeared eight times in this opening paragraph so far, and I just twice.

And don’t even get me started on my older brother, the full stop, who thinks no end of himself because no sentence can ever end without him! Except when an exclamation or an interrogation pips him to the post. And even then, if you look carefully, he is there right at the bottom of the mark.

While I may be a bit player in the world of punctuations and the vocabulary, I am a vitally important one. I am quite possessive. In fact, my presence at the end of a word denotes possession. For example, John’s sister’s boyfriend’s mother is a kleptomaniac. Now where would that sentence be without me, I ask you? By rights, I should be proudly rubbing shoulders with all the other punctuation marks that spring up like a rash all over the page. But do I receive the respect and recognition that is my just due? No siree, Bob! (as the Americans would put it).

Far from it. To add insult to injury, no one seems to know quite how to use me, when to use me and when not to use me. Which is why, and I kid you not, they have formed an Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) in England, to ensure that I am properly used wherever the English text is printed or published. Google them, if you don’t believe me. More power to their shoulders, I say. Here are a few samplers of how people place me just about wherever it catches their fancy. See if you can spot the gaffes:

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover/ Resident’s and visitor’s parking/ Headmasters chamber/ Good’s inward’s/ Dont’t drink and drive/ Plant’s for sale/ For Gods’ sake.

There you are, you see. It’s an absolute nightmare. And just in case you’re wondering if this apostrophe disease is largely evident only outside of the United Kingdom, you’ve got another thing coming. The UK would appear to be one of the biggest offenders, according to APS. India ranks pretty high on this dubious list. As for the US, the less said the better. One can only paraphrase Professor Henry Higgins, who declared that in America, they haven’t used the English language for years!

So, that is my sorry tale, dear reader. To conclude, I can only plead with you, that the next time you spot an apostrophe, alone and palely loitering, take pity and find a proper place for it, will you? Thats all I ask. Sorry, that should read ‘That’s all I ask’. You see, it’s catching.

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