When to Use Apostrophes (or is it Apostrophe’s?)

When to Use Apostrophes (or is it Apostrophe’s?)

Grammar is either something you care about or something you pretend doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, when crafting any type of communications, grammar is a critical¬†component¬†of making your point.¬†

Today I received an instruction from a new client regarding an upcoming presentation:

Company’s who’s logo’s I would like on the cover page

This short phrase made me sad.¬†One of the most abused elements of English grammar is the apostrophe, and I had just witnessed such an abuse.¬†Rather than wallow, I decided to use¬†this¬†as an opportunity to educate those who either never learned basic grammar or can’t remember the rules.

Apostrophes are used only in two cases:

  • Where letters¬†are missing, e.g.¬†isn’t instead of is not.
  • To indicate possession, e.g.¬†Dave’s¬†report (the report belonging to Dave).

Back to the scene of the crime:¬†Company’s who’s logo’s I would like on the cover page

Problem #1

Company’s should be Companies.

Do not use apostrophes to indicate a plural noun (more than one thing).

Problem #2

who’s¬†should be whose.

The word isn’t¬†short for who is.¬†

Problem #3

logo’s should be logos (no apostrophe).

The apostrophe doesn’t indicate something belonging to the logo. There is no missing letter. You don’t need an apostrophe to indicate multiple items.

Problem #4

The final problem, the use of passive voice, is a bit more difficult to explain.

Company’s who’s logo’s I would like on the cover page should be
I want you to
(or please) include the following logos on the cover page

Statements in business writing should be direct and clear. X did Y to Z. Not X will have done Y, or perhaps X might consider Y, or Z will have been done by Y. 

I would like is a vague/wimpy statement. Compare it to I want, which is more direct, right? 

Active voice clearly indicates the person or people involved in a specific, clear action.

Simply following these key principles will improve the clarity of your writing, thereby improving the odds that you will be understood, which is the goal of communicating in the first place, right?

Please contact us today.

Thank you

Karen Bluestein


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