I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure

another sad tale of apostrophes


Shopping with my mum on Friday, I spotted two apostrophe horrors.

The first was in the ladies lingerie department of Marks and Spencer – a shop that you would think should know better!

photo © iusedtobe indecisive

photo © iusedtobeindecisive

The second horror was on the side of several recycling bins, in the shopping centre.  To protect the innocent (well, misguided) I have cropped some of the details from the photograph.  This was a winner in a Primary School poster competition, designed to raise awareness for the need to reduce, recycle and re-use.

As a teacher, I am disappointed that it was allowed to be entered into the competition with a) two irrelevant apostrophes – one in the heading and one further down, and b) a spelling mistake – reduse instead of reduce.  I am further disappointed by the fact that it was one of the winners of the competition, and is now plastered over lots of recycling bins in the town!

photo © iusedtobe indecisive

photo © iusedtobeindecisive

It’s a shame, because it’s a nice clear poster, but surely it wouldn’t have taken much to ask the child to correct the mistakes before entering it into the competition.

I know some people would argue that the mistakes don’t prevent you understanding the meaning of the poster, and therefore should be ignored, but I think it doesn’t portray the school in a good light, or the judges of the competition.  By not correcting the mistake it is condoning and perpetuating incorrect grammar.



22 thoughts on “another sad tale of apostrophes

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Elaine! I can’t understand why people cannot seem to learn that you don’t use apostrophes with plurals!!! As an English major and an English teacher, it’s one of those things in life that drive me crazy. 🙂

  2. Its obvious that your a stickler for corect grammer and speling – just like I!

  3. I absolutely agree Elaine! Apostrophes are one of my bug bears….

  4. Am shocked by that poster (less so by the M&S one). My job involves liaising by email with various primary school teachers, and I never cease to be amazed how many of their emails contain spelling and grammar (including apostrophe) errors.

  5. Don’t start me.
    Especially today on Mother’s Day/ Mothers day / Mothers’ day.

  6. These kinds of errors make me crazy! It almost seems an epidemic anymore.

  7. I wonder if the teacher of the child even knew there were errors. I can’t believe that the poster was entered and then that it won….amazing. Standards aren’t what they used to be.

  8. I don’t have a problem that a student made a mistake. The poster is creative. With the errors, however, it is a shame it won. What about the entries that did not win? They must be horrible.

  9. Now hang on a minute. An apostrophe is used when letters are omitted. Isn’t it? (See what I did there?) So I think M&S might argue their case with the pj’s. Though technically, following that rule, they would have to be p’j’s.

    How would you have written that sign? “per una pjs” just looks odd and is difficult to understand. Would you insist on the full pyjamas?

    • The problem is, I think, that they are writing about pyjamas, which is a plural word. I think it should have been written as PJs – but as the namel per una is written in lower case, it should maybe be pjs, which looks odd, as you say. Or maybe they should just have gone for the full word and written pyjamas!
      An apostrophe is for ommission or belonging and in this case nothing is ‘belonging’ and if we go for ommission then p’j’s could possibly be correct… Oh, my head hurts now! 😉

  10. I think PJs would be best.

    I’ve never liked the name “per una”. It’s Latin for “through one”, which is just odd. And it sounds like Prune-ah in conversation.

  11. Apostrophe misuse drives me insane. If it’s plural, it needs no apostrophe. How is that hard to understand?

  12. I’m right behind you on this one! I’ve got my torch and pitchfork at the r’e’a’d’y 🙂

Now it's your turn

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s