Apocalyptic Apostrophes, Bad Parking and Queer Quotation Marks

For me, one small slice of heaven is finding other bloggers out there who share my frustration with shameful grammar, apostrophe abuse, and fools who couldn’t park a finger up their nose. I also harbour a penchant for Engrish (yes, that’s right Engrish not English) signs. Imagine then my delight in discovering a treasure trove of likeminded people who equally take offence at apostrophe abuse, quotation mark overuse and twats who can’t park or string together a few paltry words in an intelligible sentence. I know, I’m teasing you, so without further ado, here are some gorgeous blogs and websites for you to check out:


If you EVER feel inclined to enclose a word, a phrase or an entire sentence in quotation marks, be sure – be very sure  – you actually understand what quotation marks are used for. HINT: it isn’t for drawing attention to your product or message unless you want to look like a complete dick.

 ... hmmm, I wonder just what kind of “service” you get at this station?



These two blogs address the peeve dearest to me: the misuse and/or ignorance of humble apostrophes.

When I learned how to use an apostrophe back in 3rd grade, it made perfect sense to me. You have a noun (like dog) and to show that the dog owns something, you used an apostrophe: the dog’s ball. If there are two dogs each of whom owned a bone and you wanted to say that the bones belonged to the dogs, you put the apostrophe AFTER the plural noun: the dogs’ bones. Again, this tells you that the dogs OWN the bones. Not that there’s two dogs.

It’s not rocket science. Ahhh… but for some people, apparently it is!

so much superfluous punctuation....

A common apostrophe abuse seems to be where morons … I mean … people apply a rule that is something like: use an apostrophe on every noun ending in a vowel. Thus: tomatoe’s (more than one tomato) or PIZZA’S. For godsake!! The pizza’s WHAT? What does the pizza own? Tell, me because I really want to know. Another abuse is found with common abbreviations: CD’s; DVD’s; TV’s.  This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Putting an apostrophe in CD’s still indicates ownership: the CD’s what? Its cover, maybe? The correct plural abbreviation is: CDs, DVDs, TVs, and the same with dates: 1970s, 1990s, 2000s.

The other way in which apostrophes are used is for contractions –when you joint two words together or leave out part of a word. That’s not hard to grasp either. That’s = that is. Don’t = do not. You’re = you are. Wasn’t = was not.Got the picture?

The only slightly tricky one is ‘it’s’. It’s = it is. Its (no apostrophe) is a possessive pronoun: its ball, its chair, its den, its furry headpiece. Easy.  If you can drive a car, use email, read a freakin’ recipe book, you can damn well stop being so lazy and use an apostrophe correctly.

Similar to apostrophe abuse is a phenomenon that seems to be confined to the USA: the use of lower-case ‘l’ in signs. Check out this blog for a graphic explanation:


Do lazy, careless drivers who couldn’t park a finger in their ear, let alone their cars in a supermarket car park annoy the crap out of you? Then this is the blog for you:


(We could actually start a lazy shopping trolley/random shopping trolley blog in Alice Springs, but that’s a rant for another day!).

Finally two more blogs, one from the world of lame church signs and my favourite broken English website. You know those really, really bad signs that churches put out on near the footpath to shame/motivate/guilt you into going to church … like ‘Jesus: Thermonuclear Protection’? Well, in America (as you might expect) these are at plague proportions (hah! I made a clever joke):


And of course, what would this post be without a link to my all time favourite webpage about really bad English signs written by non-English-speaking people:



  • David Barry says:

    I strongly disagree with the bit about abbreviations. This is perhaps because I do some technical writing, where I want to make it clear exactly what the base noun is. KdV’s makes it clear that I’m pluralising KdV; KdVs looks like a four-word acronym. A similar thing applies if you’re working with a group of variables called, say, x_i. If you want to talk about the x_i’s, you want that apostrophe to distinguish it from a different set of values, the x_is.

    The use of the plural apostrophe in these cases is permitted by the Physical Review (the largest physics journal) Style Guide.

  • gadget says:

    Hi David, thank you for commenting.

    What you are referring to in your own work is a stylistic convention within a discrete discipline -not general English useage. So for your own discipline -technical writing- the useage is correct. What I am referring to is common English useage, in which the use of an apostrophe in abbreviations such as those referred to in the blog post is absolutely unwarranted – unless you live in America.

    I refer you to any textbook on English -note I said English, not American grammar- and on a more humourous vein, to Lynne Truss’s brilliant book: “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”.

    Once again, thank you so very much for taking the time to read our little blog and to leave a comment.


  • David Barry says:

    I used to strongly dislike American usage, but I eventually came round to the idea that doing so was silly, given the number of Americanisms in Australian (and British, though to a lesser extent) speech and writing anyway. To do something ‘on the weekend’ is an Americanism. ‘OK’ is an Americanism. And so on.

    In any case, I refer you to the people at Oxford in the UK, who say that my plural apostrophes are almost always acceptable and sometimes preferable:


Comments are closed.