Adieu, Apostrophe Protection Society

Great news for everyone on Team Laziness and Ignorance. We won!

That’s the parting shot from the founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, 96-year-old retired journalist John Richards, who shut down the group’s website after 18 years of unsuccessfully battling the ignorance of all us ignoramuses.

Actually, his farewell was a little wordier: “We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!” These words make clear that you’re either with Richards or you’re ignorant and lazy. And I’m not with him.

Yes, I know it’s odd for a grammar columnist who gives advice on apostrophes to ally with Team Ignorant About Apostrophes. But if Richards is going to divide the world into supporters and dummies, I say pass the dunce caps.

I’m actually a fan of proper apostrophe use. And I’ll confess I wince a little when I see them misused. But my philosophy, with apologies to Eugene Debs, is: Wherever there is a less-educated class being ridiculed by people who went to better schools, I am in it. If you’re going to brand as “lazy” a widowed mother of three who has to work two jobs while taking care of an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s just because she doesn’t share your priorities, you’ve lost me.

But for folks who do have the time and energy to care about apostrophes, here, in my recent column, is a quick overview of rules that can help you avoid this kind of ridicule.

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