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Punctuation Pet Peeve: 6 Ways to NOT Use Apostrophes

If you are a fellow word nerd, I’m sure you have a punctuation pet peeve that makes you cringe every time you see it.

For me, one of my bigger peeves (one that makes my skin crawl, teeth hurt, eyes twitch — you name it) is the misuse and abuse of the apostrophe.

Have you ever received a Christmas letter in the mail with a return address label that says “Love, the Connolly’s”?

Or seen a sign that reads “Coffee and Doughnut’s”?

My punctuation pet peeve? When people incorrectly use an apostrophe!

How about an email confirmation that “your shipment is on it’s way”?


Are you with me?

I’ve lamented about apostrophes before, but for some reason, I’ve noticed quite an uptick in their misuse lately. Thus… this blog post rant is simply necessary.

But before we get into the don’ts of using apostrophes, let’s be sure you know the correct ways apostrophes are used. There are three main reasons to use an apostrophe according to one of my favorite style guides, The Chicago Manual of Style:

  1. To indicate the possessive case (My sister’s name is Geraldine.)
  2. To stand in for missing letters or numerals (I had so much fun in the ’70s.)
  3. Or to form the plural of certain expressions (All those x’s and y’s can be overwhelming.)

Pretty simple, right? Oh, but how we humans like to mangle our punctuation marks. Commiserate with me as I discuss six ways to NOT use apostrophes.

Misuse #1: Do NOT use an apostrophe + s to make nouns plural.

This is one of the most rampant misuses of the apostrophe out there. When people want to make a word plural, for some reason they also want to tack on an apostrophe. An apostrophe shows possession.

Incorrect: I eat pancake’s and vegan sausage’s almost every day.

NOPE. The apostrophe + s indicates possession — and the pancakes and sausages aren’t possessing anything (except maybe lots of calories).

So let’s fix it!

Correct: I eat pancakes and vegan sausages almost every day.

Much better 🙂

Or how about this one…

Incorrect: Apostrophe’s always confuse me.

LOL. This one is just really wrong. Let’s correct it before I really start to twitch.

Correct: Apostrophes always confuse me.

My grammar pet peeve? Incorrect use of apostrophes!

Misuse #2: Do NOT use an apostrophe + s to make a proper name plural.

Now I KNOW this one is waaaay up there on the list of annoyances for grammar nerds. We have all received holiday cards at some point that look like these:

Incorrect: Love from the Smith’s.

Incorrect: The Jones’s are sending you well wishes for the holidays.
(And you gotta love to hate that passive voice!!)

It’s almost like people want to complicate things by adding an extra apostrophe in there. To make proper names plural, you either add an s or es. Add the s if the name ends in a consonant; add es if the name already ends in s.

Correct: Love from the Smiths.

Correct: The Joneses are sending you well wishes for the holidays.
(BONUS! To get rid of the passive voice, use an active verb: The Joneses wish you well for the holidays.)

Misuse #3: Do NOT use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns.

It is never, ever appropriate to put an apostrophe + s with a possessive pronoun. You should never see your’s, her’s, their’s, etc.

Incorrect: What’s your’s is mine, and what’s mine is your’s.

Correct: What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours.

Here are two really popular mistakes I see all. the. time.

Incorrect: I love how shiny it’s coat is.

Incorrect: Who’s red pens are these?

It’s is a contraction for it is. Who’s is a contraction for who is. My trick to know if you’re using the correct word: substitute the contraction for what it stands for. In this case, you wouldn’t say “I love how shiny it is coat is” or “Who is red pens are these?” So you know both contractions are incorrect.

Correct: I love how shiny its coat is.

Correct: Whose red pens are these?

My grammar pet peeve? Incorrect use of apostrophes!

Misuse #4: Do NOT use an apostrophe in verbs.

This error isn’t as common as others, but it still pops up on occasion. I chalk it up to that compulsive need some folks have to add an apostrophe in the most random places 😉

Incorrect: My brother always find’s fun things to do.

Incorrect: Jane always see’s faces in the clouds.

Written with apostrophes, the verbs appear like contractions. Similar to Misuse #3, you can substitute what the contraction stands for to see if it makes sense. In this case, “find is” and “see is” make zero sense in those sentences, so get those apostrophes outta there!

Correct: My brother always finds fun things to do.

Correct: Jane always sees faces in the clouds.

Misuse #5: Do NOT use an apostrophe with noun-derived adjectives ending in s.

I can see how this one could be tempting for some. But alas, adding an apostrophe is still no bueno.

Incorrect: The Texas’ sunrise is a sight to behold.

Incorrect: I like those Christmas’ decorations.

Correct: The Texas sunrise is a sight to behold.

Correct: I like those Christmas decorations.

Misuse #6: Do NOT use an apostrophe in numbers and abbreviations that are plural but not possessive.

Incorrect: I was born in the 1990’s.

Incorrect: I have two BA’s and three PhD’s.

Adding apostrophes here makes the sentences look clunky and less readable. When in doubt, take ’em out!

Correct: I was born in the 1990s.

Correct: I have two BAs and three PhDs.

Our Take

I love sharing my word nerdiness with you guys! Not many people out there get as hot and bothered as we do about grammar, so it’s fun to nerd out about things like apostrophes. We could use a few more of us in the world, yeah?!

Your Turn

Do you have a particular grammar pet peeve? Or have you ever been guilty of committing one of these apostrophe crimes? Share it with me in the comments — I promise I won’t judge 🙂

If you want to learn even more about apostrophes and other grammar-related fun, be sure to check out my FREE 45-minute workshop. You can use those grammar skillz to start your own freelance proofreading hustle!

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  1. I do not like the use of the word “ain’t”…I do not use it when I speak with people, and never in writing. I like to speak like I have been educated, and I feel the use of that word, (and many others, actually) just takes away from that.

      1. according to Dictionary.com, it is indeed a word. sad, ain’t it? lol

        1. Lol! 🙂 Sometimes I actually use “ain’t” in my writing… it is always clear that it’s for emphasis, though.

  2. This is perfect! I just did terribly on the apostrophe worksheet and was worried. Thank you for your perfect timing!

  3. One of my biggest pet peeves is the misspelling of the word “y’all.” What reason would you have for spelling it “ya’ll”? I even received an email from AC Moore with it spelled that way. I almost sent back a reply offering my proofreading services. I rarely correct posts on FB (who has that kind of time?), but that is one of the few things that I just HAVE to speak up about. Drives me crazy!

    1. Y’all is a contraction for you all. Ya’ll is a contraction for ya all. (Arguably not a word unless you live in Texas).

      1. Actually, Candi Harris is correct. I was born and raised in Texas and have been called the “Grammar Nazi” most of my life. “Ya’ll” is nothing short of ignorant bad grammar! I can not stand that!

    2. Yes!!! The misspelling of y'all is hugely problematic for me. It's as if those who spell it "ya'll" don't understand that it's a contraction of you + all! *sigh*

    3. Just the fact that people type “y’all” drives me nuts. It’s informal spoken slang and should be typed as “you all”.

  4. As a lawyer in a former life, it drives me crazy to see judgment spelled “judgement”. I see that error in even the most polished pieces.

      1. I am a big grammar and proofreading nerd! I cringe when I see proofreading errors in magazines and newspaper headlines! My best friend often posts on Facebook that she is 'tied' when she means 'tired' – it makes me eyes twitch! LOL She left school at 15, so it's understandable that she makes some mistakes. I've always been a big reader, so my English comprehension and my spelling and grammar have always been strong. It appalls me to read that they aren't even teaching the basics in school anymore.

          1. This has nothing to do with the apostrophe, sorry! So many pet peeves!!! This is my cringe-worth usage mistake:

            Authors/writers who start out correctly using a word sequence that won't end a sentence with a preposition, and add the preposition anyway, are worse than those who just end the sentence with a proposition, eg. :

            "He addressed the letter to whom it was intended for."
            "She engaged in a discussion with whom she walked with." (especially egregious).

  5. Pet peeve? “Here’s 6…” which should be “Here’re 6” because 6 is plural. 🙂 You pretty much covered the other ones. Maybe there are just too many apostrophes in the world and they insert themselves in random places all on their own! Seems that way sometimes.

    1. Oh! Lisa D. Nice one. I think I'm in love with you now. That has always been one of my issues as well and it's common. And that was a perfect burn.

  6. Yes! Apostrophe disasters are the worst. Our village has a professionally printed sign at the park that reads, “Park close’s at dusk.” Ugh.

  7. Caitlin,

    Thanks for the fun post! I would have to say that my biggest pet peeve is that SO MANY people–in high-level positions–are clueless when it comes to grammar and punctuation. I know I’m probably extra sensitive to it because I am in the middle of the course and my inner nerd has been reawakened, but it just amazes me the errors that I see in prominent places (like billboards and marketing materials).

    ::deep breath’s::

    Thanks, again, for the post!

    1. LOL @ “breath’s” — yeah… bad grammar does make a “higher up” look way less competent, doesn’t it?!

  8. One of my biggest pet peeves is the use of the word “of” instead of the correct use of a contraction. Example: “I could of won!”

    1. I used to teach in an Elementary School and the principal would frequently send emails with the "should of" cringer!!!!

  9. I’ve just finished a book that often spoke of her “parent’s house”. There were 2 parents there!!!!

  10. I cringe when I see, “There’s eight different ways to go.” If you use predictive on text messaging, “there’s” pops up and very easy to hit in front of a plural subject

  11. Not meaning to hog this post, but I have so many grammar pet peeves. “Him and me are going to the movies.” Double wrong. I’ve always been taught, remove one of the pronouns and see if the sentence still makes sense.

    1. That was going to be my post! I cannot understand starting a sentence with an objective pronoun!

      1. Yes, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me! 🙂

    2. Yes, subjective and objective pronouns used incorrectly is my pet peeve, too. Also, using subjective pronouns in prepositional phrases drive me crazy. I correct those aloud when I hear them which drives my husband nuts. Too bad for him!

  12. My pet peeve is in using the wrong word instead of the contraction. This is a little off from your rant, but it does include using an apostrophe! : )

    If you don’t hurry, your going to be late.

    Corrected: If you don’t hurry, you’re going to be late.

  13. Thanks for the apostrophe schooling. That was fun to read and laugh over.
    I have two pet peeves that immediately sprung up:
    1) irregardless, regardless that it is a double negative; and
    2) using “and” where “to” is the proper word. (My boss speaks this way a lot.) Ex: …work together and pull her all the way through…” versus “to pull her…”

  14. I have so many pet peeves. My two biggest ones aren’t very common (mostly because I’ve been numbed to the rest through daily exposure). I HATE when people say “for all intensive purposes”. That makes NO sense whatsoever. Also, “irregardless” is NOT a word! And it just showed up in my predictive text! Why?!!

  15. Mine? Less and Fewer. I’m pretty sure I am responsible for the correction in the Trop50 commercials. The used to day “50 percent less calories” they re-dubbed to say “50 percent fewer calories.” I did a happy grammar nerd dance!

  16. Definitely misspelled words! They definitely make me cringe. In this world of spell check now you think it would be easier. No such luck for some.

  17. Thanks for the clarifications. I believe that your point in the 2nd example about the passive voice is incorrect. I believe it is a nominalization instead, an active verb, to wish well, turned into a noun, well wishes. If it was passive, it would say: Well wishes for the holidays are being sent by the Joneses.
    My 2 cents.

  18. When someone asks, “How are you?” and the respondent replies, “I’m good.” I’m WELL is the grammatically correct response. Make me cringe every time!!

    1. I would answer, "I'm glad you are well behaved, but I did not ask about your behaviour, I asked about your health!!"

  19. Inappropriate use of parentheses! They aren’t supposed to be used for emphasis! ?

    1. Do you mean quotation marks? I’ve ((never)) seen parentheses used for emphasis.

  20. Apostrophes are what send me over the edge. I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but now people use them liberally, indiscriminately, and completely inconsistently. Just throw one in anytime, anywhere. So I think it’s now time to open up the membership in the A.S.P.C.A. (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to the Apostrophe). For years I’ve been the only member, But now I know I’m not alone.

  21. I just saw one at the farmer’s market today near my home.
    They had
    ” Lychee’s for sale”
    Hilarious right? I see these everywhere I go.

  22. By the way, farmer’s market is correct since only one farmer owns this market. 😉

  23. I absolutely abhor the inexplicable misuse of two trios: “there, their, they’re” and “insure, ensure, assure”. Their correct use should have been taught in elementary school. I completely fail to understand how someone educated in our school systems could reach the level of a college graduate and still not understand the basics of English grammar.

    1. As a substitute teacher for grades k-12 in an Ohio public school system, I’m sad to inform you: grammar is not really taught any longer. Parts of speech are rarely taught. Case is a thing of the past. I get deer in the headlights looks when I mention things like “run on sentences.” They allow students to simply write however they write. Grading is supposed to be based on content and understanding of assignment, not on the basis of the written construction of the assignment.
      My son is a sophomore at a Big 10 college. He sends me copies of his English assignments. I tear them to pieces. He makes maybe 1 to 2 changes I suggest and submits the assignment. He is TWO classes down now with As in both semesters. I pay just under thirty grand a year for that type of instruction. Thank goodness his degree is one that will require little written communication.

      1. Wow! I am guessing “society” is letting grammar go the way of the dinosaur because of technology… they think computers/artificial intelligence are good enough, I guess.

    2. There, their, and they're!! Yes!! Also then and than, toward vs towards, breaths, breath vs breathes, breathe, sell vs sale, and so many more!!!

      1. I was just waiting for breath vs. breathe. It just pains me to see, “I can’t breath!”

        Another pet peeve is knifes. My kiddos and I ate at a pizza place where they had labeled forks, spoons, and knifes. ????????‍♀️

  24. My biggest pet peeve is incorrect spelling! Especially the -ie and -ei

  25. My biggest pet peeve about apostrophe is its and it’s. Do NOT add an apostrophe when you write The cat licked its paws. Remember, it’s is short for it is. I’ve noticed this in published books as well, and it just makes me cringe.

  26. Recently, the thing I hate most is when someone mixes up “Worse” and “Worst.” Or if they use one of the two as the same thing.

  27. My biggest grammar pet peeve is the whole “me, myself and I” problem. It’s ok to say the word “me”!! Example: “Here is a picture of me in front of the Empire State Building.” It cracks me up how many people go out of their way to avoid writing the word “me” at all costs!

    Well, look! Right below here, it says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.”
    Gee, how come it doesn’t say “Notify myself of follow-up comments….” ?? LOL!

    1. I must be older than dirt because the rule I grew up with was: "Never use 'myself' when 'I' or 'me' will do."

      Young attorneys I used to work with would dictate letters and say, "…give myself a call" and I changed it every time!

  28. Misspelled words-DH spells biscuits as “bisquits” on the shopping list every single time. Had a good laugh today when we received a post card from his sister, who also spelled it the same way( and she is a teacher) lol!

  29. My biggest grammar pet peeve is the use of the words “bring” and “take”. I was taught that you use bring when something is coming to you, and take when something is going away. But I hear those two words used in the opposite way now more often than correctly. This is over the last 5 or 10 years. Someone at home saying they’ll bring the kids to school is the best example. This drives me crazy! Does nobody else notice this?

    1. Oh, that’s a good point now that you mention it. 🙂

  30. It drives me batty that my phone’s predictive text/autocorrect doesn’t seem to know what to do with possessive apostrophes. I can, through repeated use, train it to understand the singular, but plural possessive (such as boys’) is just too much.

  31. If we are going to mention non-apostrophe peeves, how about the new fad of using “literally” to mean “figuratively”? “I literally died right there.” Gosh, then how are you able to tell the story?!? Or what has now apparently become an accepted business phrase, to use “out of pocket” to mean unavailable instead of meaning that you had to spend money on something. Argh!

    1. This is my all time pet peeve. "Literally has a meaning and that's not It!", I want to scream.

      Also fustrated for frustrated.

  32. Hey Caitlin. My “pet peeve” is with the word you’re & your.. I always see these 2 words misused.

    Stephanie J

  33. Hi Caitlin,
    Almost always I see you’re & your improperly used.
    For instance, they type your welcome instead of you’re welcome.

    Stephanie J.

  34. It drives me up the wall when people use “myself” instead of “me.” Needless to say, I am up the wall quite often! “Fred, Mary and myself went to the meeting.” “It was myself and the other tenured professor who disagreed with the decision.” Also, the misuse of “I”: People constantly use it where they should be using “me.”

  35. I love this post. My biggest pet peeves are people who mix up “you’re” and “your” or “there” “they’re” and “their.” That drives me crazy.

  36. I am late to this game, but HOO-BABY YEAH!!! on the apostrophe nightmare!!!! Guuuuurl!!!! Preach it!!! I used to work in the news industry and you would not believe the mistakes I saw, of the apostrophe variety or otherwise. They were THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE (the apostrophe mistakes). Luckily, the vast majority of them were in the spoken copy, not in the graphics you see like lower-thirds and full-screen graphics. But sometimes those apostrophe mistakes did creep into the on-air graphics, and oh, how it made me cringe!! I did my best to stop them from hitting air … but alas, it was an exhausting task.

  37. How about the link in the email that left the “to” out of “How not to use apostrophes”? And how about splitting the infinitive “to use” in the huge headline beginning the post?. It should be 6 Ways Not to Use Apostrophes, shouldn’t it?

    1. Great catch! We will get that wording on the link fixed.

  38. Let’s face it ladies, if it weren’t for all these poeople with poor grammar and punctuation problems, we would NOT have job opportunities!
    Think about every situation in a positive way. Yes, these are annoying mistakes, BUT, SOMEONE HAS TO FIX THEM!
    Pay me, pay me…
    I’ll take the challenge!

  39. One of my biggest peeves is the incorrect use of “myself” in sentences such as “If you have an questilns, please ask myself or Brenda.” Grrrr! I work for a recognized global corporation and that bothers me to no end when people write or say that- even management. I am constantly biting my tongue!

    1. Gahh! Sorry for the typos. I really do hate typing on my phone. *sigh*

    2. Yes! That’s definitely one of my top pet peeves, too. I don’t know how so many people can get that one wrong! 🙁

  40. I cannot stand it when I hear someone say ‘these ones’. It’s these – not these ones!

  41. I notice a lot of stuff, but I have learned not to care so much about someone’s grammar that I don’t notice the value of what they have to say. However, one thing that gets me every time is when people misspell a word, and the way it’s misspelled causes it to actually form a different word from what was intended. One example I’ve run into often is “soldier” vs “solider”. Saying “The solider marched through the city” is completely different from saying “The soldier marched through the city.” Or, “The dog got a new color” vs “The dog got a new collar.” That kind of thing annoys me, because although a lot of misspellings are annoying, you can still understand what the person meant, but in some cases like this, I’ve been genuinely confused by the sentence until I realized what word the person meant to use.

    Now, on the flip side, I have a tendency to use British spellings for a lot of words even though I myself am an American. For example, I use the British spellings for saviour, neighbour, and behaviour. There are times when spell check will tell me I misspelled something, when really I was just using the British version instead of the American version. I am fairly certain the reason I do this is because my father used to read to me from the King James Version of the Bible when I was younger, and I became accustomed to seeing those words spelled that way, so I copied that spelling.

    1. I like your point about misspelling getting in the way of the intended meaning. That is certainly a good argument for proofreaders! 🙂

    2. Elissa: That tendency to use the British version to spell some words and then effectively arguing with the spellcheck function is something I also deal with on a regular basis. Yarg! In my case, it’s because I’m ex-Navy and was exposed to all manner of languages and their uses. I hope my syntax isn’t too garbled, as I’m new to this blog.

    3. "I notice a lot of stuff, but I have learned not to care so much about someone’s grammar that I don’t notice the value of what they have to say. " That is beautiful, and thank you for saying it!

  42. It is a little off the present topic, but my teeth itch when people use the word “done” when they mean finished or completed. “My child is done brushing her teeth.” I was taught that done was related to cooking , specifically baking. “The cake is done.”

  43. These are all cringeworthy! Something that’s been driving me crazy lately is Random and unnecessary Capitalization!

  44. I’ve threatened to start walking around the world with a black marker and a can of spray paint, fixing apostrophe errors wherever I find them. I agree with everything in this post except for one sentence near the end:
    “When in doubt, take ’em out!”

    May I suggest as an alternative:
    “When in doubt, look it up and get it right!”

    No rhyme and not as pithy, I admit, but I still prefer my way…

  45. One of my pet peeves is the habitual use of loose for lose. It drives me nuts! Another one is when people spell the word, separate as seperate. I realize my life must be pretty good for me to dwell on such trivia.

  46. I taught English in China for six years and edited medical papers in Thailand for five years. The only people I’ve ever seen who can’t handle an apostrophe are native English speakers. The rules are so simple that it really shouldn’t be a problem. But oh, it is.

  47. A major pet peeve of mine is the incorrect use of quotation marks for emphasis on signs that say, “free” or “on sale.” I’m confused. Is the item not actually free or on sale? It makes my hair curl!

  48. My pet peeve? “Your” for “you’re” – arrgghh!! That drives me bats!! “Your” is always used for possession; “you’re’ is that pesky contraction “you are’ and I just don’t understand why that is so hard for people. Thanks for this great review. I got most of them correct before looking at the answers. Yay!!

    1. Yes, I completely agree — why are possessives and contractions so frequently confused? Grrr…

    2. Thank you.

      Your welcome.

      Whose welcome?

      Your welcome.

      My welcome?

      No, YOUR welcome.

      Sorry, I don’t own a welcome.

      1. Oh wow, that's brilliant! It made me laugh so hard, I'm wiping tears from my eyes!

  49. And what about “skillz” at the end of the Pet Peeves article above?

  50. Your first one is one I see on menus and signs all of the time, but this is another one: The thing is is that………. I hear very well educated people say it all of the time! It should be “The thing is, that……..

  51. My biggest pet peeve is the use of good vs. well. It just grinds my gears when I hear these two words used incorrectly! I find myself constantly correctly others on this… something that is likely my husband’s pet peeve about me. Lol!

    1. I actually need a refresher on that one! It’s been a few years since school!

  52. I hate to hear someone say “It’s Jack and I’s turn to do the dishes.” or “Marty and I’s new car is bright blue.” I frequently hear young adults misuse the word I this way and it drives me crazy!

  53. The apostrophe mistakes always bother me, but I find myself much more peeved by people using lists that don’t work consistently throughout. I see this most often in bullet and number lists. For example, take the following.
    Some skills you will need are:
    * translating between skill levels
    * how to write for your audience
    * make good blog posts

    It drives me up the wall. The last two points make NO sense with the sentence…and yet there they sit.

    Don’t know if that’s actually grammatically incorrect, though. It just feels so very, very wrong.

  54. I’d say I have at LEAST two pet peeves: 1) improper use of their, there, and they’re; and 2) misuse of then and than…aarrgghh!

  55. I’m so guilty of misusing apostrophes when it comes to plural proper names, numbers, and abbreviations. So it’s funny that when others are guilty of the above misuses of apostrophes, I get so annoyed. Lol.

  56. Do you want my short list or long list. #1 bring/take. Almost everyone has forgotten how to use take. Take things away from the speaker, bring things toward the speaker. Ads are tricky. Is the speaker at the location where you should bring an item there. Or at the radio station telling you to take an item to the nearest location.
    Your/you're. I saw in an elementary school music room where I'm assuming the teacher wrote the lyrics to the song Your (sic) so fine. If teachers don't know proper grammar then how the hell are students going to learn. It was after school hours and I couldn't find anything to leave a note or make a correction to the poster with the lyrics.
    #3 Pronoun usage. "He gave it to Jim and I". "Me and Jim went to the movies". My thought pattern is to leave out the person and use the correct pronoun, then add the name. I learned German and in the lessons since English is a west Germanic language, the verb 'to be' is like an '=' sign. Pronouns are the same on both sides.
    #4 Who/whom. Just like pronoun usage. "I didn't know who was who". "Whom did he see?"
    I probably made mistakes in this post.

  57. Of course, all of the "your, you're" and "their, they're, there" misspellings.

    When people say or type, "I seen…" "I seen him last week!" It makes me want to vomit!

    Using "literally" for literally everything (see what I did there? ????)! My kids do not get the real meaning and are corrected by me every time!

    I try to give my friends the benefit of the doubt and assume it was auto-correct, but when someone puts "defiantly" instead of "definitely."

  58. Oh, I forgot to add the things of which I used to be guilty that keep me up at night (well, almost)!

    First, I was guilty of the last name apostrophe misuse on my Christmas cards for several years. I quickly corrected this the year I learned (re-learned) and burned every card from my past (kidding)!

    My senior year of high school I was picked to paint the Homecoming mural. Being the Class of 2000, I had "Class of the Millennium" as part of the design. However, I spelled millennium with only one n! Of course it's recorded for all of eternity in the yearbook and, most importantly, my mind! In my defense, so many teachers saw me working on it and no one corrected me!

  59. I seriously dislike people using a comparative with unique, eg a very unique sunset.

  60. Hi Caitlin! Well, one of the worst words I see written down on paper or posted to social media, is the word “tomorrow.” It seems to be an epidemic in this town I live in. They all spell tomorrow the exact same way and it just makes my skin itch???? They spell tomorrow either like this, “tomarro:” or this “tomorrow.” Another thing that bothers me is when there is supposed to be an S at the end of a word, but the person either forgets it or really doesn’t realize that there is supposed to be an S. Yes, there is more…..???? The three theresss….There, their, and they’re oh and don't get me started about those crazy 2s twos, toos, . LOL, Two, too, to and 2. I have to say, it’s pretty entertaining to watch the it’s and its debate. I could go on and on, but….. Oh and the other thing. Yes, I am guilty of misusing one of those apostrophe mishaps a couple times and that would be # 2. Using an S to make proper names plural, GUILTY ???????? My favorite punctuation mark is… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know why, but I love those exclamations so much!

  61. My pet peeve is when someone uses the apostrophe wrong on a plural possessive noun. For example: The dog's bones were all around the room. **This shows that there is one dog.
    The dogs' bones were all around the room. ** This shows that there is a group of dogs.

    I see this many times when working with possessive nouns that are used in the essays of my students. Frustrating!

    1. YEP, that is super frustrating, haha! “Parents” is another one. “Today I’m going to my parent’s house.” Most of the time, the person means both parents, but… the apostrophe tells another story!

  62. Yes! Too many words are misspelled and yes, the apostrophes also a pet peeve! I just told my daughter yesterday how I cannot believe someone doesn't proofread articles on internet before they're actually put on internet. Like New York Times' newspaper articles. That's a very reputable newspaper and hundreds of mistakes!!
    I'd absolutely LOVE to learn how to proofread.

    1. I know, right?! I read a major transcription company’s website article last night wherein they’d interviewed a founder of a partner who said their service “compliments” so many industries. LOL

  63. Affect and effect can be confusing.
    I was glad to learn the rule about the proper nouns ending in s, like Jones.
    I was not sure about its. Contraction only makes perfect sense.

  64. I really get irritated when people say “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less.” It just cuts my ear. ???? And they don’t realize they are saying exactly the opposite of what they want to say, and it drives me crazy ????

  65. Mine is the use of "loose" instead of "lose." Read a book once that had it throughout. UGH!

  66. Hi Caitlin,

    My pet peeve has always been misspelling especially on signs and menus.

    Another thing I cringe at is the misuse of “of” instead of “have”, eg: that’s what I would of thought, instead of.. that’s what I would have thought. It’s probably to do with “would’ve”

  67. This is a great refresher on the rules. I am guilty of not checking my sentences well enough and making common errors.

  68. Often when our school administration schedules professional learning community discussions per department, they publish them as PLC's. Actually, it should be written as PLCs because the PLC doesn't own anything in the sentence. There is no possession.

    1. YUP! The only time it’s cool — generally — to use ‘s on pluralized abbreviations is if it’d be confusing otherwise… and I can’t think of any examples right now!! 🙂

  69. I really dislike in correct grammar and misspelled words when I am reading something. I find that if I am reading an ad and find it written wrong that I am immediately turned off.

  70. This was DELIGHTFUL Caitlin! I love how thoroughly you ranted!!

    My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of the word LESS. Example-"There are less houses on that street." NOOOO! "There are FEWER houses on that street." !!! UGH! I sometimes seems as if the word FEWER has been misspoken and miswritten out of existence!! Perhaps I will write my own rant about how the word FEWER needs to be rescued from going extinct.

    Thanks again for a most enjoyable read and for adding the hilarious cartoon visuals!

    Bethany Williams

    1. Haha!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Bethany!! And I agree… less/fewer is a blood boiler!! Although I have caught myself saying it before! Growing up in the south, I heard all kinds of weird things that I adopted and didn’t even realize it!! You totally should write a rant about it — have you heard of Medium.com?

  71. 1. Using “I” instead of “me”: He told Susan and I the whole story.

    2. Misusing “its” and “it’s”, especially in a newspaper. Seems to be becoming more and more common. I’ve gotten into arguments with college-educated (?) colleagues at work over this.

    3. Not grammar or punctuation, but pronouncing “nuclear” as “nucular” drives me crazy.

  72. 1.Should've ( should have ) turning into should of.

    Verbally, it sounds the same, but now I'm seeing " should of " instead of " should have " in writing and it drives me crazy!

    The same goes for could and would.

    2. This one's not grammar so much as definition, but I have to include it! I'll admit, it's a losing battle. Saying " go/goes " instead of " said/says ". Sadly, it seems to have landed in the lexicon.

  73. Ok, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to vent this pet peeve!! It start to twitch when I see the misuse of your and you’re; their, there, and they’re; and, lastly, it’s and its. Whew! So glad to get that off my chest!!

  74. I watch a lot of yoga videos and it makes me scream when the instructor says, “Ok, lay down on your mat”. It interferes with the zen I’m trying to achieve.

  75. Caitlyn, thanks for this fun post! I have to admit that I've used the years one and the degrees one for literally years (I mean writing the 1990's, etc. or I have 2 BA's, for some reason, BAs just doesn't look correct!), and I'm pretty much a grammar nerd, too! Thanks for saying you won't judge!

    My biggest pet peeve comes mostly in texting when people are too lazy to capitalize "I." It drives me crazy, because often it carries over in their other writing. I have learned to forgive my oldest sister and to get past it with her; we text too often to let something like that bug me.

    Another one is sew and sow; this happens way too often. You would think that in a rural Kansas community where farmers sow their fields in the spring, summer, and fall (depending on the crop), that people would know that they do not sew their fields, especially, because so many of the wives do sew! Although, we also have pig farmers who may have a sow or two, but that's a noun, not a verb! I hadn't ever thought of that, though, maybe that's where the confusion comes in?

  76. Caitlyn,

    My pet peeve is with the word, "Ain't", and then using it as a double negative. "I ain't never seen such foolishness in all of my life!"

  77. My pet peeve is people who mix up the use of "a part" and "apart"! It drives me NUTS to see – on LinkedIn, no less – people who post statements like, "I am honored to be apart of this group." It makes my head hurt!

  78. I can’t stand it when people use the word “loose” when they mean to use “lose”.

    If I keep seeing this error, I will “loose” my mind. ????

  79. Apostrophe misuse #6 is something I read and correct all time from my students' papers. It makes me angry! ????

  80. Yeah with people use it to say from the Smith's instead of the Smiths.

  81. My students are always using the apostrophe with plural nouns. It drives me crazy! That is truly my pet peeve.

  82. Love this article. My pet peeve is when people deliberately misspell words because they are trying to be cute. For example:
    Krazy Kat

  83. I'm guilty of using #2 and #6. Today is the day I change that.

  84. My pet peeve is when someone says "these ones" or "these here" because there's no need for it. One can simply say these and leave off the ones and here with it.
    Correct: Take these towels to the laundry room. Incorrect: Take these here towels to the laundry room. Or if someone asks, "Do you need these ones?" That's incorrect. He/she should simply say, "Do you need these?" Just saying these is sufficient.

  85. How about when someone is in a heated Facebook conversation and tells someone else, "Your an idiot." Yikes!

  86. I must say, I often comment on people's typos without being invited to do so. Sometimes it's met with thanks and gratitude (is that what I'm looking for? I don't know, I just "have" to do it!), but it can be met with the reaction of a rabid mob looking to tear you apart. I actually had to have a Facebook post I responded to removed by a marketing guru because the response from the group was akin to the torch-carrying mob coming after me at the climax of the movie "Frankenstein."

    Pet peeves: the incorrect use of "your" and "you're" (which, much to my chagrin, has been circumvented in loose, colloquial writing by the text-created "yur"); also, "there" and "they're" (especially when it should be "their"); and of course, the ubiquitous "its" and "it's." Also, "affect" and "effect" get my molars grinding. ????

  87. The misuse of they're, their and there drives me nuts, along with whose and who's, who and whom. If only the English language were a little less confusing.

  88. "You're" and "your" are used improperly by some writers.

    Recently I saw these above words used incorrectly. It was painful to see and read!

    Correct: I like your dress.
    Incorrect: I like you're dress.

  89. the use of " from the get-go" instead of " from the beginning"

    the use of " should of" instead of " should have"

  90. Liberty Mutual’s “Only pay for what you need” really bugs me. Are we being advised to only PAY FOR what we need, rather than ask, beg, barter, settle, or go into debt for what we need? I think Liberty should move the adverb closer to the phrase it modifies: “Pay for only what you need,”

  91. Absolutely the worst is using a colon before a quotation instead of a comma. When did that become acceptable?

  92. My biggest gramma pet peeve is the misuse of the subject-verb agreement.

  93. I had a friend who loved to emphasize that she had "specifically" told someone something, except she always said "pacifically"! It drove me insane! 🙂

  94. I used to see a shop sign written as Stationary, not Stationery. They sold newspapers, magazines, and other stationery needs. I cringed every time I saw it.

  95. Yes! Misuse of apostrophes is annoying. I think it gives away a person’s overall poor grammar. Spellcheck won’t be helpful here; you need to catch those errors based on context.

    I had coworkers at some point—college graduates and generally smart people—but their grammar was ridiculous!!

    He wan’s—He wants
    Sizar—Caesar or Cesar for Spanish

    Their mistakes were SCARY bad.

  96. I literally cringed at all of these incorrect examples! My particular grammar pet peeve is the misuse or complete omission of necessary commas. #oxfordcommaforever

  97. Maybe "cringe" isn't apt, but I'm bemused by dropped or added letters in TV news captions. I know they're composed on the fly, but when someone suffers from a "myserious" ailment — I'm sorry, I chuckle. Errors happen, but the ones that create unintended meaning — proofreading gold!

  98. These aren't apostrophe related, but one of my grammar pet peeves is when someone starts a sentence with "We was…." Major cringe!! (Far too common in small town USA.) Another pet peeve is the use of "I" in the wrong place when used along with other names. For example, "You can ride to the store with Jill and I," or "The water splashed all over Dan and I!" The opposite is just as bad, "Roger and me went to the movie." Or even worse, "Me and Roger went to the movie." *eye roll* My dad used to correct my siblings and me if we said something like this by saying, "Roger's mean?" (It sounds like you're saying, "Mean Roger went to the movie.") We, of course, would roll our eyes and then say, "Roger and I…."

  99. It's not grammar, but how about the rampant mispronunciation of 'str'?

    Shtrange. Shtrong. Frushtration.

    It's suddenly everywhere.

  100. It’s not an apostrophe comment, but how about “pants?” A pair of pants is singular , two pairs of pants, or shoes is plural. Why do stores use the phrase, “pant?” Or “pant leg?”
    And I hear , “I bought two pair of shoes.”

  101. I saw a sign on the Today Show the other day that misused the apostrophe. Al Roker always says, "and now the weather in your neck of the woods." However, the sign said the following: "Tell us how the weather is in our neck of the wood's." I was so embarrassed for them because they were on national television.

  102. My biggest pet peeve is when people use the word your in the place of you're. It drives me crazy. I have taught for over 20 years and every note I have from my students says that your my favorite teacher. I see it in print everywhere, but the worst offenders are on Facebook.

  103. My pet peeve is those who sign cards, "Love, The Williams's."

  104. People writing "of" instead of "have"; as in "I should of been more careful" when they mean "I should've been more careful"

  105. I am ashamed to say I have been guilty of signing my Christmas cards with, " The Player's."
    Yikes…I should have known better. I won't be making that mistake again!

  106. Our last name is Davi. Since I married I have been irked by not being able to say "The Davis" as it is another name entirely, and I believe would be seen incorrectly. To stay away from "The Davi's" I write "The Davi Family." Do you agree?

  107. There are some misuses illustrated above which I've forgotten over the years; thanks for the refresher!

    One must remember that an apostrophe is a comma on helium! (Little joke)

    Usage can get messy as well. Why do so many, including very learned individuals, mispronounce et cetera and say instead, "ek cetera?" Oh, I could go on!

  108. It drives me crazy when people use "to" where the word should really be "too". For example, "The dress is too large". I have seen so many times where people will say "The dress is to large" instead.

  109. I’d have to say one grammar error that bothers me is just misspelled words

  110. My pet peeve is incorrect comma use, but I sure do see what you mean about apostrophes. Another one that drives me crazy is their, they're, and there. Even auto-correct is trying to fix that one. Lol.
    The mistakes I usually make come from typing too fast, and not catching when auto-correct tries to help me by replacing a word. I once typed Hod instead of God. Can you guess what auto-correct ALWAYS changes God to now? (roll eyes) Another time I asked my brother if he wanted to go to a museum when I came to visit. Auto-correct changed museum to brothel; definitely NOT something I would ever ask, or know where to go to for that type of thing. Go ahead and laugh, he still does.

  111. It drives me completely insane when someone uses no punctuation.

  112. One of my coworkers uses 'borrow' when they mean 'lend', and 'lend' when they mean 'borrow'. I twitch when they say it.

  113. When people say I seen it or I done it. Or I brought it when they mean I bought it.

  114. It really drives me when people say, '…and I.' When it should be, '…and me.'
    Can you take my brother and I to the store? Arrrrgh! It's me! Take me to the store!
    Thanks for letting me vent. 🙂 The apostrophe for plurals is a good one, too.

  115. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people write “Happy Belated Birthday”. The birthday is not belated, the well wishes are (and is well wishes a thing?) so it’s “Belated Happy Birthday”. Absolutely drives me crazy when I see it!

  116. It drives me nuts when people say things like:

    I have went to that store many times.

    He could have did his homework on Friday.

    Just… ugh!

  117. “Your welcome.” Grrr
    “I seen that.” ????
    Ain’t anything! ????

    I could go on, but I won’t. You understand.

  118. I’d like to think that each time I prevent an incorrect apostrophe from being published, an angel gets it’s wings! ???? See what I did there?

  119. My pet peeve is when I am on a website or other professional page, and there are misspellings or other grammatical errors. It's an immediate turn-off.

  120. Using the word loose in place of lose makes me crazy!!

  121. I dislike when someone uses an apostrophe in place of the final g in a word (fixin').

  122. The restrooms at my workplace read MEN'S and WOMEN'S.
    I try not to look.

  123. Oh my goodness! I think I am guilty of using an apostrophe in numbers (i.e. 1990's). However, I am not 100% sure. When I read the content of this article, I initially thought "that's not incorrect" and tried very hard to picture myself writing something such as 2000s using an apostrophe. I am still not convinced that this is, indeed, an error that I make but because this information struck me as it did, I do think I have made that error on occassion. I know better now!! THANK YOU!!

  124. Where is it at?

    Ugh. ???? Please leave off the “at”!

  125. Season's Greetings! , Season Greetings! or something else?????

  126. There’s a beauty salon in my neighborhood whose awning reads Mercede’s Salon. Whenever I walk by it, which is not often, thankfully, I want to scream.

  127. I keep seeing realize being spelled "realise" on web sites.

    1. The word realize is spelled realise in the UK. We go through the differences in American English, British English, Canadian English, and Australian English in Module 5 of the course and we give students links to long lists of words and how they’re spelled here in the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada so they have them for reference to aid in their work.

  128. The one that drives me crazy is the indiscriminate and improper use of ellipses. I've seen a single paragraph in a supposedly meaningful business email with 4 ellipses in it. And not one of them was used to indicate missing words in a direct quote. That's not a typo, it's a "mindo" and it couldn't have left a good impression on the customer who received it.

  129. Excellent points.
    However, "The Joneses are sending you well wishes for the holidays" is active voice (subject does the action) using the present continuous aspect of the verb (be + -ing form of the verb).
    Passive voice (be + -ed form of the verb) for the above sentence would be: "These holiday wishes are sent to you by the Joneses." ("Holiday wishes" occupies the subject position of the sentence). Or, "These holiday wishes are being sent to you by the Joneses" would be the passive voice in the present continuous aspect.

  130. Love your tutorial/rant! Go, you!

    My favorite apostrophe test is: Those old things over there are my husbands.
    Uh-oh. Did I just misuse a colon? Should I have put the test in quotation marks? But whom am I quoting? I dunno, I think it was my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Baird. Or should that me "who" am I quoting? Maybe I'm not cut out for this.
    Oh mi gaw! I am performing so badly in front of Caitlin AND the whole PA community!
    What if they get out the net?

  131. The phrase "should'a went" gives me shudders and no punctuation or capitalization. a It's difficult to understand my grandchildren. The wrong word: their, there, and they're…makes me sigh, too.
    Hope I didn't destroy any of my credibility here.

  132. I teach middle school and right now my biggest pet peeve is that many of them are writing "I" with the lowercase "i". They think they're still texting their friends and I have to explain the difference between professional writing and writing to their buddies.

    I also agree with many of the other pet peeves listed on here!

  133. Very helpful! Thank you for the information.

    Bothersome when people confuse your and you're. Also, y'all and ya'll is irritating to me.

  134. Historically, I have other pet peeves, but what I find hair-tearingly obnoxious now is the modern compulsion to replace every "me" with an "I":

    He saw Ricky and I at the festival.

    Katie collaborated with Joan and I for the groundwater proposal.

    As I was growing up, the reverse was so commonplace in speech (Ricky and me saw him/Joan and me collaborated with Katie–we all said it, but we all knew it was wrong) that it only troubles me in written texts.

    I can't ignore misusing "I" even in casual conversation.

    1. It’s crazy how annoying that can be! Cheers!???????? to Grammar Police Everywhere!

  135. My eye twitches when I hear “He had went to the store”. AARGH!!!

  136. Here in North Carolina, it's common to hear "we be" or "I be". ????

  137. My pet peeve? When people misuse and incorrectly state phrases such as “ I could careless!” when they actually mean that they could not care any less. And they are not intending to say they are careless.

  138. Love these clarifications. My all-time "peeviest" peeve was for an ad proclaiming, "For sale puppie's". (Yeah, I know there's a comma is missing, but it's as quoted.)

  139. The thing that really gets me riled up is misuse of then and than.

  140. I cannot STAND when people mix up weary and wary. Usually they mean “wary” but use the former instead. I’m not sure why that one bothers me so much but it literally makes me angry when I see it!

  141. I think you summarized my main pet peeves thoroughly. I’m drawing a blank to add more pet peeves because you’ve done such a good job.
    However, lately people’s pronunciation of certain words are really bugging me.
    Thank you for the good read

  142. I recall my son's teacher sending home a document for the students to memorize.
    The last line read, "The Untied States of America".
    I instructed my son to recite it as such, even though he knew the difference.

  143. I am quite irritated when folks do not use lys.
    I am doing wonderful. (incorrect)
    I am doing wonderfully. (correct)

  144. As others have mentioned/ My pet peeve is using “of” instead of “have” as in “should of”, “could of” and “would of.” I also detest the wrong use of pronouns “He/him”, “she/her” when coupled with “me/I” – especially when the person is trying to be rude or sarcastic towards someone. “Your sister and me (or Me & your sister) have it covered! The nurse already talked to her and I.” Ugh…

  145. The misuse of apostrophes drives me expletive-deleted crazy. I keep correction people on Facebook, emails, etc. Such abject ignorance.

  146. I am always confused about whether or not to use an apostrophe after a possessive noun that already has an s built in such as in the name "Jesus" or "Thomas." It seems I had been taught to exlude the second "s" as in "…in Jesus' name"

    1. Please see CMOS rule here: 7: Spelling, Distinctive Treatment of Words, and Compounds
      7.22: An alternative practice for words ending in “s”
      Chapter Contents / Possessives / Exceptions to the General Rule

      Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s—hence “Dylan Thomas’ poetry,” “Etta James’ singing,” and “that business’ main concern.” Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation in the majority of cases and is therefore not recommended by Chicago.

  147. I have to bite my tongue, hard, to keep from reacting to a person saying “ I seen…” ???? More than any other, like screeching nails down a chalk board, that one seriously offends my ears! Lol

  148. How do you soothe a grammar nerd? "There, their, they're."

    My pet peeve is hearing people say things like, "They gave it to Joe and I." Ack!

  149. One pet peeve that I see quite often is,

    We are anxious to hire people that are self-starters. WRONG

    We are anxious to hire people who are self-starters. CORRECT

    I also cringe when I see there, they're, and their misused.

  150. I totally hear you!

    And I despise contractions because people incorrectly undo them or do not recognize them at all!!! The apostrophe plays an important part here.

    could've, should've, would've, might've, I'd've… I flail on the ground with that last one (but it is a great example for students who need to unpack their thoughts)!

    And the kicker is when a writer has undone 've as "of"! I cry. I have to cry!

    Then there is this gem:

    incorrect: Your going home, right?

    Yes, Yes, Yes I am running far away from your incorrect use of a possessive pronoun.

    correct: You are going home, right?

    Or since this is an apostrophe rant, and I also teach the "take apart the word" strategy:

    correct: You're going home, right?

    Yes, I am.

    Finally, there is one more apostrophe infraction that makes me nauseous: the use of apostrophes as single quote marks instead of the necessary actual quote marks. This gives me a headache too. Thus, I must find both Tylenol and Tums!

    Thank you for your entertaining and informative post!

    What is your take on the can't, cannot, can not conundrum?

    Wishing all the best,

    Dr. Cynthia Fortner PhD

  151. I have to agree with you that apostrophes are the most annoying errors in punctuation. I find it amazing to see so many people still making these errors.

    For me, a close second peeve is confusing words that sound the same, e.g. there and their, your and you're (another apostrophe error), etc.

  152. My original post should have read "cringe-worthy. Didn't proofread it well enough or accidentally deleted the "y". ????

    1. No worries! Even proofreaders need proofreaders, Cordelia!

  153. I teach high school grammar, so I could put a lot of these! It's vs. its; May/Will; I/Me usage and so on. I must admit, though, that the lay/lie/laid/lays/lain is still a struggle for me.

    1. Lol! I just copied this from CMOS for another question! Here you go:

      lay; lie. Admittedly, the traditional conjugations are more blurred than ever. Mastering them has proved difficult for people. Nevertheless, here goes. Lay is a transitive verb—that is, it demands a direct object {lay your pencils down}. It is inflected lay–laid–laid {I laid the book there yesterday} {these rumors have been laid to rest}. (The children’s prayer Now I lay me down to sleep is a good mnemonic device for the transitive lay.) Lie is an intransitive verb—that is, it never takes a direct object {lie down and rest}. It is inflected lie–lay–lain {she lay down and rested} {he hasn’t yet lain down in twenty-three hours}. In a doctor’s office, you should be asked to lie back or lie down.

  154. i’ve had to correct appostrophe use constantly.

    I could use some more help with run on sentences. Do you have anything available to help? I have been working on this in my legal pleadings but really could use some more rules or practice. Thank you.

  155. What is the correct way to write a person's last name on a sign? Example The Claytons or The Clayton's? Thank you

    1. If the last name is Clayton, then the plural form is Claytons. The possessive plural form is Claytons’ not Clayton’s. Possesive plural form wouldn’t be used unless it was used as Claytons’ Home or Claytons’ Place. Hope that clears it up!

  156. It bothers me when people use, their or there, incorrectly.

  157. The current misuse of “Blank and I” drives me wild! People are using it all the time and I almost have to bite my lips not to correct them. “Blank and I went to the fair” is correct, but “Mom gave Blank and I gift certificates” is not. And, it’s so easy to figure out how to say it correctly: just separate the two subjects. Mom gave Blank a gift certificate and me a gift certificate. The absolute horror for me is when people say “Blank and I’s car is in the shop.” Since when, ever, do we say “I’s” anything? Talk about misuse of the apostrophe! (You can see this really gets going.)

  158. My pet peeve is using an apostrophe with "its" when it is showing possession. Only use the apostrophe when "its" is used as a contraction. I am sure I have committed an apostrophe crime using an apostrophe with noun derived adjectives. In the text, "6 Ways Not to Use Apostrophes" , an example is given where the Texas' Sunrise is incorrect and the Texas Sunrise is correct. I am sure I have made a careless mistake like this in the past. It is a bit tricky.

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