Every year I say this to my Elementary English 4/5 and English 1 classes, usually to the tune of that old Coca-Cola commercial I heard every Christmas as child. I am just tickled to my core that the LORD has allowed the first entry of this blog to be about something so petty and yet so dear to my heart. That’s one of the reasons I love Him so.
First, I have my class repeat after me with great enthusiasm and fervor: “There are no apostrophes in plurals!” Grasp how liberating it is to know that not every word that ends in an –s demands that little floating comma. If that word simply means more than one of something, just save yourself the extra keystroke and smile.
Apostrophes denote possession of something. If you have a word than intends to own something else, you need only to remember these three little rules:
RULE #1: If the possessive noun is singular, add –’s. It doesn’t matter if the noun already ends in an –s or even –ss; add that –’s. Does it look weird? Yes. It is grammatically correct? Yes. This means it is the puppy’s bowl or the class’s teacher. Alas, it saddens my heart to say that my NIV translation is one of the worst offenders of this rule. Every time it mentions Jesus’ disciples, I whisper silently, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”
RULE #2: If the possessive noun is plural ending in an –s, just add an apostrophe after it. If more than one puppy owns a bowl, it is the puppies’ bowl. If more than one class owns a teacher, she is the classes’ teacher. Can you see now why Jesus’ doesn’t make any sense? It implies that there is more than one Jesu who happens to own some disciples.
RULE #3: If the possessive noun is plural and does not end in an –s, add –’s. This ending is just like Rule #1. If more than one child owns a playground, it is the children’s playground. If more than one mouse owns some cheese, it is the mice’s cheese. Once I actually bought a stick of generic-brand deodorant from Wal-Mart that I didn’t even need because it proudly declared in big, bold letters on the front label, “Mens’ Deodorant”. When was the last time your husband declared, “Hey, honey! Me and the mens are going bowling tonight.”
I now realize to my horror that I have probably confirmed the worst fears of every parent that has ever contacted me: that I have corrected their e-mails with a mental red pen. Not so, my sweet friends. Outside of class, such Grammar Nazism is strictly reserved for blunders on large billboards, store-front signs, and those black wipe-off boards that display the daily specials at restaurants. My husband has threatened to leave me home the next time he sees my thumb reaching for an offending apostrophe on one of those things. Pray for me.