– Who invited you? 

We all know that per­son who turns up to every par­ty but no one is entire­ly sure who invit­ed them. Sure, they’re good com­pa­ny but there’s a time and a place and some­times that time and place isn’t now.

Hel­lo the apos­tro­phe – some­times it’s expect­ed and some­times it turns up unex­pect­ed­ly; tak­ing the writer from suave and cred­i­ble, to “Seri­ous­ly!? Even my daugh­ter knows you don’t use an apos­tro­phe there”.


The apos­tro­phe has two main functions:

1.       Merging words.

Don’t, won’t, isn’t – the apos­tro­phe indi­cates miss­ing let­ters, which saves char­ac­ters, time and for­mal­i­ty. Some­thing that the major­i­ty of writ­ers get right.

2.      Possession.

Niki’s choco­late, Alan’s team, Leo’s girlfriend…the apos­tro­phe shows pos­ses­sion (hands off Alan, Niki is Leo’s girl­friend and that is Niki’s chocolate).

The apos­tro­phe is a pow­er­ful lit­tle squig­gle and there­fore it’s no won­der that peo­ple want to use it in their writ­ing but some­times, the pow­er goes to your head and peo­ple get a lit­tle apos­tro­phe hap­py. Com­mon mis­takes include:

  • 1:1’s
  • Tea’s
  • Coffee’s
  • 1980’s (a bril­liant decade)
  • OAP’s

Unless these words own some­thing (i.e. the OAP’s din­ner), then the use of the apos­tro­phe is not only wrong but it can turn you from cred­i­ble to credilaughable.

It’s ok to Not Get it

 Ask me to cor­rect­ly use an apos­tro­phe and I’ll squig­gle over all of your work per­fect­ly; ask me to cook risot­to and you’ll get crunchy rice. We are all real­ly good at some things and real­ly bad at oth­er things – and guess what, that’s ok.

Peo­ple, like me, are here to proof­read, amend or even write your work for you, mean­ing that you don’t have to stress about apos­tro­phes and your audi­ence can con­cen­trate on your mes­sage, rather than com­par­ing your gram­mat­i­cal skills to Dil­lan, aged 10. (I bet Dil­lan couldn’t cook a risot­to either).

To find out more about how A Way With Words can help with your writ­ing, click here.

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