Grammatical Tragedy: Apostrophe Society Closes

LONDON (AFP) — Britain’s Apostrophe Protection Society is closing down, its founder announced, saying sadly it has lost the fight against “ignorance and laziness.”

Former journalist John Richards, 96, started up the society in 2001, to preserve the correct use of what he said was the “much-abused punctuation mark.”

Richards spent the last quarter of his career as a sub-editor, preparing journalists’ copy for the newspaper — a task which often involved correcting their use of apostrophes.

When he retired, he kept spotting the same glaring mistakes in daily life and decided to take action, seeing the apostrophe as an endangered species in need of protection.

But Richards said that with regret, he was closing down operations for two reasons.

“One is that at 96 I am cutting back on my commitments and the second is that fewer organizations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English language,” he wrote on the society’s website.

“We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!”

The website will remain open for reference.

It gives a simple guide to readers, with examples of how apostrophes are used to denote missing letters and possession but never plurals.

A special case: The possessive form of “it” is “its” — no apostrophe — because it’s means “it is.”

© Agence France-Presse

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