• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Punctuation Pet Peeve: 6 Ways to NOT Use Apostrophes

Punctuation Pet Peeve: 6 Ways to NOT Use Apostrophes


Updated: June 27, 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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*

  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.

  5. Pet peeve? “Here’s 6…” which should be “Here’re 6” because 6 is plural. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

  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::
    LOL

    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!”

  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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    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! ?

  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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  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, Iโ€™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 โ€œrun on sentences.โ€ 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!!!

  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!

  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!

    1. That’s funny! Guess it runs in the family! ๐Ÿ™‚

  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  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!

  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! ๐Ÿ™

  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! ๐Ÿ™‚

  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 โ€™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…

  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 โ€œThe thing is, that……..

    1. Good one! Thanks for adding it to the list. ๐Ÿ™‚

  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? ๐Ÿ˜‰)! 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 itch๐Ÿ˜‚ 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…..๐Ÿ˜‚ 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 ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜‚ 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 โ€œI could care lessโ€ instead of โ€œI couldnโ€™t care less.โ€ It just cuts my ear. ๐Ÿ˜€ And they donโ€™t realize they are saying exactly the opposite of what they want to say, and it drives me crazy ๐Ÿ˜†

  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!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  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. 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?

  72. 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!"

  73. 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!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Posts You Might Like