You are here: Rediff Home » India » Get Ahead » Careers » Education
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

English bloopers: 'Is this your's?'
Praveen Madhukar Naik
Get news updates:What's this?
June 04, 2007

Are you ready for a few good laughs at yet another installment of English bloopers? Today, we'll be looking at how apostrophes often result in grammatical catastrophes!

When it comes to written English, apostrophes are commonly used, but often misunderstood. The apostrophe looks like an elevated comma, and can be found directly to the left of the 'Enter' key on your computer keyboard.

Even in informal writing and friendly emails, it's important to use apostrophes properly. Out of place punctuation makes your written work seem sloppy and unprofessional.

Get Ahead reader Praveen Madhukar Naik, a 26-year-old software engineer, often comes across these annoying mistakes at work, and even when reading the newspaper! He's provided some helpful points to remember about apostrophes:

Apostrophes are used:

1. To indicate a missing letter or letters:

CORRECT: I can't go to school.
Which is the same as: I cannot go to school.

CORRECT: I don't smoke.
Which is the same as: I do not smoke.

CORRECT: It's so cold in here.
Which is the same as: It is so cold in here.

2. To indicate a noun's possession:

WRONG: The cars windshield was broken.
CORRECT: The car's windshield was broken.

WRONG: A dogs tail cannot be straightened.
CORRECT: A dog's tail cannot be straightened.

WRONG: Shreyas's collection of stamps is awesome.
CORRECT: Shreyas' collection of stamps is awesome.

3. When the noun is a plural, or ends with the letter 's', the apostrophe comes after the word:   

WRONG: The two students's belonging were confiscated.
CORRECT: The two students' belongings were confiscated.
WRONG: The Mehta's house is across the street.
CORRECT: The Mehtas' house is across the street.

Apostrophes must never be used:

1.To indicate plural.

WRONG: The girl's were late.
CORRECT: The girls were late

WRONG: There were no chair's in the room.
CORRECT: There were no chairs in the room.

2. To indicate a pronoun's possession.

WRONG: This land is our's.
CORRECT: This land is ours.
WRONG: This dog is her's.
CORRECT: This dog is hers.

WRONG: Is this your's?
CORRECT: Is this yours?

WRONG: The company maintains it's standards. [This is a very common mistake!]
CORRECT: The company maintains its standards.           


We thank our readers for the witty emails detailing common English bloopers they've come across! Keep them coming in, and we'll keep publishing them. Three times a week, we'll provide articles featuring your responses.

If you'd like to share common bloopers you come across when people speak/ write in English, do mail your list of common bloopers, along with their correct alternative to -- we'll highlight them right here as a helpful guide to those trying to improve their English. Also make sure you include your FULL NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.

 Email this Article      Print this Article
© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback