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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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Apostrophes: Part V

If you've been following the past four grammar tips, you're probably getting a little tired of apostrophes. So am I!  Hang in there with me―this will be the last newsletter dedicated to apostrophes, at least for a long while!

This week we'll discuss specific places where apostrophes should not be used. I'll also share a few non-possessive purposes for apostrophes.

Apostrophes should not be used in the following:

Plurals of family names:
●  The Smiths are coming over for dinner.  (not the Smith's)
The McMillans will be arriving soon.  (not the McMillan's)

Plurals of days of the week:
●  Meet us for lunch on Sundays.  (not Sunday's)
●  The office is open on Saturdays.  (not Saturday's)

References to specific decades:
●  I have fond memories of the 1980s.  (not 1980's)
●  I love music from the '60s and '70s.  (not 60's and 70's)
   (Note that the apostrophe is used here to indicate that
   the word has been contracted, not to make it plural.)

Plurals of capitalized abbreviations:

●  DVDs, HMOs, CDs, VIPs, PCs, VAs

Plural nouns derived from other parts of speech:
●  ups and downs, ins and outs, dos and don'ts

Exception: Apostrophes can be used if the meaning is otherwise unclear.

or's and nor's, which's and that's
●  maybe's, yes's and no's (or yeses and nos)

Capital letters used as words:

●  His report card contained three As, two Bs, and one C.

Exception: Apostrophes can be used if the meaning is otherwise unclear.
●  I think you've used too many I's in that paragraph.

Apostrophes are used for a few non-possessive purposes:

Lowercase letters used as words:
●  Dot the i's and cross the t's.
●  Mind your p's and q's.
●  I'm still wearing my pj's.

Plurals of words in quotation marks:
●  How many more "To be continued's" can we expect?

Congratulations! You have completed the Grammar Tips & Tidbits series on apostrophes. I hope it has been helpful! If you'd like to review the other tips in the series, click here to start at the beginning.

Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions―or if you need help dotting your i's and crossing your t's!

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●  Read past grammar tips in the Grammar Tips & Tidbits Archive. Be sure
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    future reference.


1. University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed.  
        (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 279-281.
2. Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. 10th ed.
        (New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005), 182-183.