Sometimes apostrophes are hard


Admit it. You’ve been stumped by apostrophes before. There’s no shame in it — even for word-savvy types who know all too well the difference between “lets” and “let’s” and who can spot a misplaced apostrophe in “Welcome to the Smith’s house” from a mile away.

Apostrophes are used in many situations — too many, really — ranging from the super-easy “the dog’s tail” to the super-arcane “attorneys general’s.”

In my recent column, I looked at at the far end of the difficulty spectrum: The apostrophe uses that can stump even the very best of punctuators. Here are some of the toughest situations for knowing when to pull out an apostrophe.

Do’s and don’ts
Attorneys general’s
Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day
Single quotation mark instead of apostrophe in ’80s
Goodness’ sake, conscience’ sake, appearance’ sake
Kids’ and children’s
A’s and Bs and c’s and d’s

All those are correct. Here’s why.


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