Apostrophe catastrophe

India, apparently, has a lot of people who are good at English. Anyone who has seen recent use of English in general would do well to take exception to this. So many times these days I see an apostrophe used in the wrong place.

For those who have forgotten their grammar, an apostrophe is used to signify belonging and in some cases (preferably avoided) a shortening of two words into one. There are so many signboards, across India (I have seen them in Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi), where the apostrophe is used in a plural. “Coconut’s” means belonging to the coconut (make sure spelling is right; a board in Ahmedabad got it horribly wrong) and not a number of them.

Most of these people are convent-educated, graduates. Even aspirants of MS programmes in the US have been known to make such errors, as well as MBAs (and not MBA’s) from some of India’s (note correct usage) premier institutes. I hope the situation improves, for everytime I see such errors I feel it is an apostrophe apocalypse.

Anyone publishing anything in the newspaper (including reporters-some are incapable of stringing an entire sentence in English) or making a board should please be careful.

P.S: Let me know what you think of this article. Also, anyone pointing errors in this article will be duly mentioned alongside the correction.

UPDATE:  An Oatmeal link that explains it clearly (Thanks to Shivani Rege)



7 thoughts on “Apostrophe catastrophe

  1. Gubbara says:

    I’ve noticed even Europeans misplace the goddamned apostrophe’s! Far bigger culprits than Indians..

  2. Kapil Bodkhe says:

    To add to this, one should also notice that for plural nouns ending in “s,” one should add only an apostrophe and omit an additional “s”. For example, singers’ voices, students’ books.
    I’ve seen quite a few people unaware of this grammar rule.

  3. Siddhartha says:

    It would be good to add a line or two on “it’s” and “its”. I am sure only a handful of people understand the difference in these two.
    “eats, shoots, and leaves” discusses usage of apostrophe too among many other things. nonetheless, a good effort 🙂

  4. chetana says:

    well written 🙂 It’s true.. most people seem to leave behind their grammar at school itself. Also, when you read Wodehouse and other such authors, you wonder as to how restricted our vocabulary has become!! As someone rightly mentioned, we chased the Britishers out and are now trying to murder their language as well!!

  5. Red Devil says:

    Grammar Nazi 😛

  6. Red Devil says:

    Bhavnaaon ko samjho, nabar :). On a more serious note – I used to get quite worked up about the fairly appalling level of grammar, spelling and punctuation so common in India – Literates/ Pseudo-Literates/Illiterates alike. But after interacting with Europeans (and Americans and Britishers, for that matter) who pay little emphasis on it themselves, I’ve started ignoring these things now.

  7. nissimnabar says:

    I was shocked to see an apostrophe catastrophe in a presentation by the Carlyle group. Apparently, mothers and Dad’s are asking their kids to take up medicine or law rather than finance.

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