Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have been thinking a lot about apostrophes lately. I believe apostrophes are very important blotches of ink. Last weekend, signs all over London advertised the "Kids Expo" in Victoria Park.

Now see, leaving out the apostrophe (i.e., "kids" instead of "kids'" or "kid's") should lead any thoughtful English-speaker to doubt that this is some innocent fair, and instead picture a creepy nightmare. An apostrophe would tell you that this is an exposition for kids. Instead, we have the apostrophe-free exposition of kids.

I see that missing apostrophe, and I picture tents with kids kneeling on tables, being weighed and measured and inspected. I picture people stopping by, saying things like "quality kid you got there," "nice colour on that one," "got any tips for growing a kid like that?", and "how much for your kid?"

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the expo featured kids running free and having fun, enjoying the things on exhibition rather than being them. 

Another example of apostrophe atrophy can be found in nearly any public place, where you will find the "mens" and "womens" washrooms. This is an even worse offender than "kids," because "men" is already plural. Do we go in there to wash our teeths and feetses? I hope there are no mices in there. Oh yeah, and where is the washroom for childrens?

One day I will own a restaurant where you will find signs pointing to MAN WASHROOM and WOMAN WASHROOM. It will be a proud sponsor of the the annual Activities for Children Festival.

--Apostrophe Apostle


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

Sean said...

Man Washroom and Woman Washroom imply that the washroom is made of a man or a woman no? Also, I would have expected you to use cryptic signs for the washroom''''s.

Yous dissapoints me

Erin said...

I used to drive by a sign every day that said "Condo's for sale." They obviously meant that there were multiple condos for sale, but the literal meaning was that there was one condo for sale. I would always say quietly to myself: "Just one." One day I noticed someone had whited out the apostrophe, and my inside joke with myself was gone. The end.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Misplaced apostrophes are second only to unnecessary quotation marks on my list of things to hate on signs!

Another apostrophe misuse that bothers me (or makes me laugh if it changes the meaning well enough) is when people write things like 1920's or UFO's when they just mean 1920s or UFOs.

Phronk said...

London: Thanks, London.

Sean: You're wrong about everything. And cryptic signs are dumb. Like places that have, like, Ye Olde Lasses and Bonnies Be Here as washroom signs and you're like wtf.

Erin: Hahah, nice one. I don't know why they'd ruin your fun like that.

Stupidgirlsguide: you're name is missing an apostrophe. "LOL"

Hey Lady! said...

I leave out apostrophes all the time. This post makes me think about it at least, instead of being lazy, because that's(thats?) usually the reason for leaving them out or using them incorrectly, that or stupidity.

Forest City Fashionista said...

I'm just glad I'm not the only person who gets upset by bad grammar and punctuation on signs. I'm going to start carrying a sharpie with me and make corrections every time I see one.

Martina Lavoie said...

I refuse to buy produce from the guy at Trail's End who sells banana's, cucumber's, tomatoe's... It's basically all that I can do to not yell, "banana's WHAT?" GAH! It's very upsetting. Obviously, if your punctuation is bad, your produce is too. Obviously.

Chris said...

This kind of thing causes me actual physical pain:

From: customerservice[at]
I’ve passed you’re feedback onto the management of the...

Aussie said...

You have a totally english POV!