No, I didn’t use a picture of a mouth-watering bowl of macaroni and cheese to get you to click on this blog … OK, maybe I did. But I swear it has something to do with this month’s topic: apostrophes.
Welcome to Megan’s blog, which is mine thanks to this apostrophe. It’s that simple!
If you’re thinking, “I don’t even know what an apostrophe is,” then this blog is for you. And, we promise, it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think.
Do you want to show that something belongs to someone? That’s the apostrophe’s job (see what I did there?). They also are used in contractions – when we want to shorten words, and also prove we aren’t robots that are trying to blend in with humans. Let’s start with those.
Contractions are when two words are smashed together; the apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters in the contraction.
You’re = you are.
It’s = it is.
Mac ‘n’ cheese = mac and cheese.
Y’all = You all (y’all Southern folks know what I’m talking about).
Y’all’d’ve = you all would have (used by Level 10 Southerners).
Sometimes you will hear that you should not use contractions in business writing because they are not formal. However, considering how clunky that previous sentence sounded, keep that in mind and find your balance.
Also remember that if your contractions are less than five minutes apart, it’s time to go to the hospital. Wait … I think that’s for something else.
The second way we use apostrophes is to show possession. Again, super easy: basically, just add an apostrophe and -s to the end of a noun.
Don’t take the dog’s bone away while she’s chewing it.
You’ll always find justice in Judge Judy’s courtroom.
But wait! What about words/names that already end in an -s?
Just add the apostrophe and skip the extra -s.
Charles’ dog patiently waits for him to come back home.
There’s cake in the employees’ break room!
Finally, if you want to make a word that already ends in -s plural, add -es to the end (not an apostrophe):
Have you seen either of my pairs of glasses?
The buses lined up at the airport.
Now you’re keeping up with the Joneses!
Specific to business writing, things always get dicey when acronyms are involved. A good tip is to ask yourself, “Does this word own something? Or do I want to say there’s more than one?” More often than not it’s the latter, so skip the apostrophe as shown in the below examples:
Our KPIs are unmatched.
We have over 10,000 SKUs.
The CEOs met to discuss next steps.
I hope I’ve made apostrophes a little less scary and a lot more understandable.
Now, if you excuse me, I’m about to turn some mac ‘n’ cheese into Megan’s mac ‘n’ cheese.
Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.