I just finished the delightfully written book Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.
As I write the key take-aways from this book, I am in utter fear of multiple punctuation errors. While I am pulling some of the key points of this book, any simple summary does the book an injustice. The examples included are sublime and I strongly believe that this book should be required reading in all English-speaking high schools. I know that had I read it, I might actually have enjoyed learning about punctuation!
- The following words are possessive and never require an apostrophe: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their, mine, yours, his, hers, ours, yours, theirs.
- An apostrophe is used to indicate a possessive in a singular noun: The girl’s lunch. However there are two sub-rules:
- When the possessor is plural but doesn’t end in an ‘s’, the apostrophe comes before the ‘s’. Example: The children’s school.
- When the possessor is a regular plural, the apostrophe follows the ‘s’. Example: The twins’ class.
- An apostrophe can indicate a time or quantity. Example: In two week’s time. (Note from an American: I believe that this is more a British usage than an American usage of an apostrophe)
- An apostrophe is used to indicate the omission of figures in dates. Example: The summer of ’69.
- An apostrophe can indicate the plural of letters. Example: How many e’s are in your name?
- An apostrophe is also used to indicate the plural of words. Example: What are the do’s and dont’s?
A couple of tricky areas – names that end in ‘s’. With modern names that end in ‘s’, an ‘s’ is required after the apostrophe. Example: Russ’s. The one exception to this is if the name ends in an ‘iz’ sound, then there is no ‘s’ after the apostrophe. Example: Denis’.
However with ancient names, it is not. Example: Achilles’.
I will continue on with summarizing this book in the next installments of Reading Room. Up next…commas!