Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We went to dinner Sunday night at a place we frequent once a month with friends. A nice Italian restaurant, not cheap, but not uber-expensive either.

They'd redone their menus, and when I opened it, my eye immediately twitched at one heading...


Really? REALLY?


Okay, here goes.

  • Apostrophes are used to designate contractions (it's = it is, she's = she is) and sometimes possessive (that is Susie's dog, that is the Smiths' house).
  • Apostrophes are NOT used to designate plurals, unless it's a plural possessive, UNLESS...
  • ...it's the plural of a letter of number. (He received three A's on his report card.)
  • To designate omitted letters in some words. (I saw him runnin' like a scalded cat.)

So when you don't know if you're supposed to use dogs or dog's, for example, SAY the sentence out loud, and expand the word. Use the one that's correct:

  • It is the bowl of the dog. (dog's - correct)
  • It is the "dog is/bowl of the dog" bowl. (using dogs - incorrect)
  • There are five dogs. (dogs - correct)
  • They have five dogs. It is the dogs' bowl. (dogs' - correct, because there are more than one dog, and the bowl belongs to the dogs, plural.)

It/it's gets people.

  • It's hot. (It is hot. - correct)
  • Its hot. (incorrect)
  • It's five o'clock somewhere. (It is... - correct)
  • Its clock is wrong. (Its - correct)

If you can say "it is" instead of "it's" and it is correct, then you use "it's."


  1. This always seems to be a difficult concept for people...apostrophe rules don't seem to make sense to some.

  2. I agree, but equally I've enjoyed some good laughs due to similar posters and notices.

  3. Every once in a while, one will come out of the blue for me too. I don't know why and have no idea where it comes from. I know better! Apostrophic possession maybe? lol Yeah I made that word up. :) Nice post btw.
    ~Rose Anderson

  4. Aargh! When will people learn spelling & grammar? I'm always harping on this, among other things (I'm sure you know what they are).
    Businesses and publications need to understand how important their spelling is to their professional presentation. Occasional typos are understandable- we all do that. But to spend money on incorrect menus?

  5. THIS. It's not rocket science, and it makes me CRAZY when I see authors who can't get this right. Learn your craft.

  6. ',; These three little bits of punctuation are the bane of my existence.