Welcome to the Wild West of possessive punctuation.
After 18 years, the Apostrophe Protection Society has been disbanded by its founder and chairman, retired journalist John Richards. Despite his best efforts, he says, he lost the battle for proper usage of the “much abused” apostrophe.
“We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!”
Richards started the organization in 2001 after retiring as an editor. He said he saw the frequent misuse of the apostrophe and wanted to provide a resource for writers.
“We are aware of the way the English language is evolving during use, and do not intend any direct criticism of those who have made mistakes, but are just reminding all writers of English text … of the correct usage of the apostrophe should you wish to put right mistakes you may have inadvertently made,” the society’s website said.
The site was closed by Monday after the announcement of the group’s disbanding brought a 600-fold increase in traffic (which, the group said, proved expensive).
For the grammar enthusiasts and novices alike who will miss out on the society’s wisdom, its answers to some of the most common apostrophe questions are as follows:
- Where should the apostrophe go if a word ends in an ‘s’? If it is singular, add an apostrophe and an ‘s’.
- Should numbers and single letters have apostrophes? “We would say that the apostrophe is meaningless in this case.”
- Where does the apostrophe go if there are two subjects? Generally, on the last person listed – unless they don’t share the object and then they each get their own apostrophe.