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Correct use of the apostrophe and its importance

As a professional copywriter, copy-editor and proof-reader Chichester Copywriter’s been accused of being a little obsessed when it comes to the use of apostrophes in written language. After having the correct use of the apostrophe drummed in, these little grammatical indicators can become a real bugbear when used incorrectly.

What people fail to understand is that incorrect use of an apostrophe changes the meaning of a sentence, so for businesses that want to communicate a message, getting grammar right is essential. This is where the professional expertise of a copywriter come into play, and here’s an explanation of  how to use apostrophes that will help in the meantime.

There are two main reasons why an apostrophe may be needed in written English, to indicate ownership and to indicate a missing letter.

The apostrophe of ownership

For example:

Just one copywriter’s services

The company’s marketing strategy

The apostrophe of ownership, an exception

The only exception to this rule is its, which does not use an apostrophe, despite being a possessive adjective like his/hers

For example:

The tapir ate its fruit

Correct use of the apostrophe and its importance

The apostrophe of ownership and plurals

For example:

Several copywriters’ services

The companies’ marketing strategies

The apostrophe of missing letters

For example:

I can’t rather than cannot

I don’t rather than I do not

I didn’t rather did not

I haven’t rather than have not

It’s rather than it is

You’re rather than you are (this is not the same as your, which is a possessive word used to describe something that belongs to you)

The apostrophe out of place

Unless used to indicate possession (as above), the apostrophe is out of place when used in the following ways:

After acronyms – Do you have any DVD’s that I could watch? – should read DVDs

After numbers – My mum wore a mini skirt in the 1960’s – should read 1960s

To indicate plurals – Our logo’s are bespoke designs – should read logos

Of course the way that we write is constantly evolving, particularly online, with introduction of text language that is becoming more commonplace. However, it’s important that when using the English language to communicate in a professional context, unless for purposeful effect, that we use it correctly so that meaning is clear and not misinterpreted.

For more information on how Chichester Copywriter can help with the professional copywriting of your business communications contact Katy@ChichesterCopywriter.co.uk.

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