8.18.2011

The Apostrophe S Lesson

Two pictures taken from the streets in the past couple of days....these are very good examples of how you do NOT use the apostrophe S (what Spanish speakers mistakenly refer to as "s anglosajón").

1. Only use 's when you refer to animals, people or groups of people:
- the cat's meow
- the nurse's purse
- Max's mice
"Alba's House Cooking" is incorrect because "Alba's house" is better for the actual living space of a woman named Alba. It does not refer to the dynasty of the Duchy of Alba. For that, you need the preposition OF. "The Cuisine of the House of Alba" is appropriate. As a native speaker, "Alba's House Cooking" makes me think that Alba's apartment has some kind of special powers. (Bad one, Westin Hotels.)

2. Don't use both 's and of together if you're not sure. If the person who owns this bar really is named Benjamín, it's enough to use the 's to show that this is his bar or his business.

We use 's to talk about:
- a person's possessions (Mike's bikes)
- where a person works (Dad's office)
- a part of a person's body (Bree's knees)
- personal relationships (my father's girlfriend, his sister's boss)



Items, things and buildings cannot, however "own" things (the front door of the block of flats, the back door of the car, the front page of the newspaper)

3 comments:

Kathleen Hershner said...

good reminder/post! One of my biggest pet peeves is misuse of the apostrophe to show possession, or people just being afraid to use it and opting for 'the house of Miguel'....argh!
Also, people (native speakers/writers included) don't know about using the apostrophe for the PLURAL POSSESSIVE, as in 'peoples' houses, dogs' lives, Stop Spanglishes' fans (is that right???)
I'm enjoying this recent flurry of activity on your site...
The site's great! The site's postings postings are great, others sites' postings are often boring!

Kathleen Hershner said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is the misuse of the apostrophe to show possession, or people just being afraid to use it and opting for 'the house of Miguel'....argh! THe other one is people who can't figure out the difference between 'their' and they're!

Also, people (native speakers/writers included) don't use the apostrophe correctly for the PLURAL POSSESSIVE, as in 'peoples' houses, dogs' lives, Stop Spanglishes' fans (is that right???)

I'm enjoying this recent flurry of activity on your site...
The site's great! The site's postings postings are great, others sites' postings are often boring!

Forrest Murphy said...

Have you seen the Oatmeal's apostrophe-s comic:
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

I think you have to admit that the confusion over "it's" vs. "its" is understandable, since it is the exact opposite of the basic rule that the apostrophe indicates possession. Who invented this language, anyway?

PS I'm not sure if blogger will accept my HTML tags to make that address a clickable link, feel free to edit them out if not.