Ode to the Apostrophe

(As he did last year, The Curmudgeon is taking off the rest of August for a little R & R. While he’s gone he’ll fill this space with encore presentations – okay, reruns – of some of his favorite past posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He’s doing this so you won’t forget him because despite all the bravado and bluster he’s one pretty insecure fellow.  During his absence the serialization of Taking Care of Business will continue every Sunday. The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon will return the Tuesday after Labor Day.)

(Among the many things that The Curmudgeon is a sucker for are silly verse and good punctuation.  Rarely does one stumble upon both, so creating your own is fun, too.)

While driving the prodigal nephew to school one recent drizzly morning, The Curmudgeon heard a brief story on National Public Radio about a venerable business that is eliminating the apostrophe in its name.  He can’t recall the name of the company, but let us say, for the sake of advancing this discussion, that the company’s name was “Waterston’s” and it was changing its name to “Waterstons.”  The explanation offered for the change was that in the internet age, the apostrophe was posing an obstacle to the company’s electronic commerce ambitions.

The story went on to mention an organization devoted to the preservation of the apostrophe:  the Apostrophe Protection Society.  (By the way, if nothing else, The Curmudgeon hopes this entry demonstrates conclusively that he’s not very attentive to the radio when he’s driving.  He considers this, as Martha Stewart might opine, a good thing.)

The society is British, and as its web site – which you can find here – sadly demonstrates, rather humorless.  The Curmudgeon draws no conclusions about whether the humorlessness can be traced to the group’s British origins.

The Curmudgeon was absolutely charmed by the idea of an organization dedicated to the protection of the apostrophe; anyone who reads this blog and imagines The Curmudgeon to be anything less than a total fussbudget about the correct use of punctuation needs to think again.  He was so charmed, in fact, that he was inspired to break into verse about this sometimes misunderstood and frequently abused form of punctuation.

It produces enormous

joy for me

When I see correct use

of the apostrophe.


It makes me mad,

I want to fight

When people don’t use their

apostrophes right.


We learned it in school

with such care and precision

Yet our practices today

merit such great derision.


Don’t use it to turn your nouns

into plural

It broadcasts your flaws

like a forty-foot mural.


Pay attention to detail

and do be obsessive

About using the apostrophe

to signal the possessive.

In using apostrophes

to make a contraction

Make sure you choose well

between addition and subtraction.


When choosing between “its” and it’s”

or “you’re” or “your” (or “yore”)

Please harken back to those grammar school lessons

you learned so many years before.

Because it produces such

joy for me

To see correct use

of the apostrophe.


If this all seems hard-hearted to you

Like the writer is wielding a bludgeon

Using your apostrophes in all the right ways

Will make you a friend of The Curmudgeon.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: