It’s really not a difficult bit of punctuation, however I see so many painfully inventive uses/omissions of it. The one that inspired this blog post was on a food menu. A Ploughman's lunchWikipedia: A ploughman's lunch is an English cold meal of bread, cheese, and onions, usually accompanied by butter and pickles. Additional items such as ham, green salad, hard boiled eggs and apple can be ... is a common English lunch consisting of bread, cheese, cold meats, etc. Apparently you can get different types of Plougman’s lunches, which the pub had put under the menu category Plougmen’.
I’m not actually sure whether the plural of Plougman’s is Ploughmen, let alone Plougmen’. If anything, it’s probably Plougman’s lunches or maybe Plougmen’s lunches. Who knows.
Anyway, it’s really fucking simple. There’s 2 common uses of the apostrophe:
Signifying missing characters in a word
If you are missing out characters in a word, use a ‘ in place of them. For example, you’re instead of you are. The ‘ replaces the space and the a. It’s instead of it is. The ‘ replaces the space and the i. “Learn the fuckin’ grammar” instead of “Learn the fucking grammar”. The ‘ replaces the g.
If someone owns something, use a ‘ to signify this.
If the word which is the owner of the object is not already plural, add ‘s to the end of the owner. For example, if Bob owned a hat, you would add ‘s to Bob making Bob’s hat. If the girl owned a dog, you would add ‘s to the girl, making the girl’s dog.
If the word is already plural, add ‘ to the end. For example, if the girls owned a hat you would add ‘ to the girls making the girls’ hat. If the dogs owned a badger, you would add ‘ to the dogs making the dogs’ badger. If the boys owned some elephants, you would add ‘ to the end of the boys making the boys’ elephants. As you can see, whether or not the object or plural is irrelevant to the use of the apostrophe on the owner.
Keep in mind that an s on the end of the owner does not always mean it’s plural. For example, Chris, referring to a guy called Chris. If Chris owned a hamster, because Chris is singular, you would still add ‘s to make Chris’s hamster.
Now, go forth into the world and stop misusing or omitting this important piece of punctuation.