If you are a new or inexperienced writer,or if you daydreamed about your sweetheart during English class, don't worry. From time to time I will be repeating some basic tips I wrote for the Heart of America Christian Writers Network newsletter a few years ago. Basic is basic so the information still applies. My source for the information was The Chicago Manual of Style - 15th Edition.
Here is a little story with sentences illustrating the correct use of some tricky instances where apostrophes are required. Below the example is a sentence explaining the usage.
Yikes! Sometimes the explanation seems so complicated it is easier to just look at the example and know that's how it is done.
Ready? Read on!
|Photo by Carol Newman|
Roses a gift from Gentleman Friend, my high school sweetheart
I daydreamed away many classes, but they were mainly math classes.
Winter is loosening its grip. Maybe warmer temperatures will bring a spring brain thaw. The Tricky Tip today is about forming possessives: where and when to put an apostrophe. (Note the word its in the sentence above does not require an apostrophe.)
Spring brings new love and, perhaps, a desire to be possessive. Consider the example of sweethearts Moe and Mimi.
The ‘80s’ biggest romantic was Moe.
The first apostrophe has nothing to do with possessives. It indicates the numeric decade. You already knew that. The second apostrophe and its placement indicate plural possessive.
Moe wrote many love letters. A love letter of Moe’s was much desired.
The possessive form may be preceded by of where one of several is implied.
Mimi’s longing for his letters was famous. Her longing was daily.
A noun followed by a gerund (a verb functioning as a noun, i.e. longing) may take the possessive form in contexts where, if a pronoun were used, it would be in the possessive case (her).
When Moe met Mimi, he fell so hard he thought the sun’s and earth’s gravities changed.
Both the sun and the earth each possesses its own gravity, each is made possessive.
Their favorite meeting place was at Randy and Rita’s dock.
When referring to a single item that two subjects share, a single possessive serves.
Finally, they went into business together by forming a sweethearts’ group. They named it Sweethearts Group, Inc. and both lived happily forever.
When a plural noun is used as an adjective, use an apostrophe. Dispense with the apostrophe only in proper names or where there is clearly no possessive meaning, and you will live happily too. .
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