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Posts Tagged ‘Apostrophes’

Dear Sons of Mine:

It’s been very weird for me for you to have phones and, with them, social media accounts. You know I gave you phones only because you had good grades and are fairly responsible (and because you not having phones was starting to be a pain for me).

The weirdest conversation so far was this one with you, Gideon, not too long ago:

You: Today is Glenn’s birthday.
Me: Glenn who?
You: Glenn, your boss.
Me: Wait … what? How do you know?
You: We are friends on Facebook.
Me: !!!

But strange conversations are now de rigueur. Behold (this convo comes after your father talked about your baseball team going from “last to first”):

And here is this soon-to-be classic from you, Dominic (you never text me unless you want something):

My head nearly exploded. Please, please pay attention in language arts class and USE PUNCTUATION (or you’ll never again get what you want from me, a grammarian who is a stickler for proper punctuation).

You both make me crazy. And also, I love you.
Mama

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Dear Content Providers*:

To avoid annoying people who care about the English language (i.e., me), please learn how to use apostrophes, when to use “I” and when to use “me,” and what spelling of the word you need for your sentence.

Auntie Beth is here to help. Again.

 

1. Apostrophes

As I have explained before, apostrophes have two uses: to show possession (of things or people, but not by demons) and to show that a letter is missing (sometimes forming contractions).

What the older-looking Faddel (above) should have written is:

“19 years old, financially stable, in shape, family’s healthy.”

That would mean his family is healthy. Instead, he has pluralized “family” and rendered the sentence nonsensical.

To pluralize, you DO NOT use an apostrophe. Ever. (Please stop making me have to explain this.) Perhaps Tybee Island lifeguards are spending all their time training for beach emergencies and not worrying about punctuation, but I believe in clarity.

2. I vs. me

Here it is, one more time with feeling: Use “I” when you are referring to the subject of the sentence, “me” when you are referring to the object. The linguistics scholar above should have known better. She shouldn’t feel too awful though; even Lady Gaga gets it wrong:

3. Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Trump is not the only one who has trouble with this if my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are any indication. Please consider carefully which version of the word you need. I don’t want to have to keep going over this.

Thank you so much.

You’re (not “your”) a peach!
Beth

*By this I mean anyone who maintains a social media account, prepares signs, writes to someone else, etc.

Should be “teachers.”

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Dear readers (and, I hope, fellow lovers of language):

I need a break from the 2016 election.

Let’s talk about the serial comma (also called the Oxford comma) for a moment. We’ve all seen the following to advocate for its use:
why-use-the-serial-comma

But here’s the thing: I would use a colon to clarify if I really meant that JFK and Stalin had side jobs. My sentence would read:

We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin.

If I meant that JFK, Stalin and some ladies working their way through college were all coming to the party, I would write:

We invited JFK, Stalin and the strippers.

I’m a fan of improving clarity by rewriting. No need to overwork the comma and use it for a simple series.

However, we cannot give the comma a gold watch and say goodbye. We still need it. And some people certainly appreciate it. (Read this from the bottom up.)

Email courtesy of 36-hour Tina

Email courtesy of 36-hour Tina

 

We also need articles or bad things happen.

 

Image courtesy of Shane Marshall Brown

Image courtesy of Shane Marshall Brown

A “the” before “pen” would have made all the difference. (Or even a bigger space before “is.”)

What we don’t need is random quotation marks — not even one random quotation mark, as seen in the photo below. (By the way, quotation marks come in pairs. That’s how they work. But if the signmaker had added another, we’d be wondering what the dogs are actually doing.)

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Image courtesy of Angela DeVore

Please send me your sign/email/meme fails in the comments or via Twitter (@BethCon5). I think we all will be needing more election breaks over the next 45 days.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Apostrophe:

You really need a vacation. You clearly are overworked. I’ve lost track of all the times you’ve had to show up unnecessarily on a sign.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

"Sunday's"

I guess the sign’s writer thought the S would be lonely without you. You and I both know that the letter can get by on its own. No need to call you in.

I wish you could assert yourself. Just say “no” to incorrect possessives. I wish I could do something to help beyond calling attention to your situation with this blog.

Take some of your friends — the quotation marks for example — and run away for a while to rest up. They need a vacation too:

There's more wrong here than just quotation mark overuse. (Photo courtesy of Karla Knudsen)

There’s more wrong here than just quotation mark overuse. (Photo courtesy of Karla Knudsen)

I hear the Maici River in Brazil is lovely this time of year. You’d get a welcome respite among the Pirahã.

Just know I’ll only request you in an emergency. You know, one of the following situations: showing possession (“Is that Gideon’s dirty sock?”),  making contractions (“No, it’s Dominic’s dirty sock.”), and indicating when a letter is deliberately left out (“Did Eddie just call me a dirty ol’ ‘ho’?”). And you never have to worry that I’ll mistake you for your doppelgänger, the single quotation mark.

Wishing you a happy vacation,
Beth

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Let’s take a break from the sideshow that is politics, and enjoy a slideshow of textual assaults.

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About 400 people have linked, emailed, tweeted or otherwise made me aware of this cartoon:

I love the cartoon, and I love that people thought (think) of me when they saw (see) it.

(That’s indeed how I feel on a regular basis.)

While most of my friends and family know me as the grammar guru, the Internet thinks I’m a different kind of freak. Just look at the search terms people used that led them to my blog.

Finding me via “parasites” and other such terms makes sense because of my “Procrastination by parasite” post.

And “rednecks” also makes sense because of my frequent posts about the “Redneck Games.”

“Butterfly McQueen” and “antithesis” led searchers to posts about rhetorical devices.

I can even explain “std in the mouth” because I admitted in the procrastination post that my leap into the information vortex includes viewing images of “STD outbreaks” and “meth mouth.”

The last term is inexplicable on many levels: Who uses “inhumans wallpaper” as a search term? Why did the search engine pick me? What did searchers really want?

Not someone who likes to talk about grammar, for sure.

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Cracker Barrel is to me is like catnip is to our cat Reggie (who seems to have left us for a neighbor). I cannot get enough of the Sunday homestyle chicken with a side of dumplings. Before entering the Starch Consumption Plaza, though, guests have to navigate the maze of rooster quilts, Oak Ridge Boys CDs and ceramic birdhouses. I can’t ever get past the “Good Old Days” food section. (Cracker Barrel calls this the “assortment of nostalgic and classic products that evoke memories of the way things used to be.”)

While I have been known to plunk down the debit card for chocolate mints and Jordan almonds, I usually pay more attention to the packaging of other consumables. I want to help the people who create these labels.

Shouldn't "old-fashioned" be the adjective here?

Besides the fact that I hate the ampersand, "tips" doesn't sound like anything tasty.

The soda isn't possessing anything. Lose the apostrophe!

Again, no apostrophe needed as there is no possession in place.

Cracker Barrel isn’t the only restaurant with advertising issues, though.

I don't want to jump into these items. I'm not sure I even want to eat anything that is "twisted."

Am I the only one who pays attention to things like this? Clearly not. Here’s something from my friend Shane Marshall Brown.

What the HECK is going on with the "Tatamagouche" and "Hurricane Harbor" entries?

 

SIGH.

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