This Holiday Season, Please Use Apostrophes Responsibly

Friends, friends, friends. (And no, we don’t mean “friend’s.”)

It’s time we have a talk about the apostrophe. As professionals who help executives look and sound their best, we feel a duty to remind professionals everywhere that reckless, irresponsible and incorrect use of the apostrophe is making them appear… well…not smart.

Please use your apostrophes responsibly and only in the two cases for which they have been approved:

·      To show possession, as in “Nancy’s report was better than John’s.”

·      To indicate letters have been omitted to form a contraction, as in “Don’t touch that,” or “I can’t find my pen.”

 That’s it. There is absolutely no other reason to unleash that tiny piece of punctuation and certainly apostrophes are NEVER used

·      To make a singular word plural, as in “I gave the gift’s to my niece’s.” (Correct is “I gave the gifts to my nieces.”)

·      To make a singular word that ends in “s” plural, as in “The Jones’ have two parking pass’.” (Correct is “The Joneses have two parking passes.”)

In fact, it’s those pesky surnames (whether ending in “s” or not) that seem to give us the most trouble. I think about half the holiday cards that come to our house include an errant apostrophe in either our name or that of the senders. It’s not the possessive “To the Smith’s, from the Ross’s” but rather the plural, “To the Smiths, from the Rosses”---no apostrophe needed.

If all this seems a little hard to remember, take heart. National retailers everywhere botch the rule, dropping much needed apostrophes on signs for the “Mens,” Womens” and “Childrens” departments. Those words don’t even exist. They should be “Men’s” and “Women’s” and “Children’s.”

And poor Victoria’s Secret somehow let this apostrophe error make it all the way to the front window of stores nationwide. (Psst, Victoria. It’s “bodies,” not “body’s.”) Hmm. Maybe they don’t think anyone is actually looking at the words.

Give it a try and let us know how it works or what else might work better. For more great ideas and tips for rock solid communication, check out our blog “Let’s Be Clear," visit us at, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @bluestoneexec.