Apostrophe Catastrophe (Part One)

Today's topic is tough apostrophe issues.

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #032

The Apostrophe Song

To cap off this first installment about apostrophes, I have a fabulous song written by a listener named Eileen Thorpe.

Now, Eileen must have also been affected by some kind of apostrophe trauma because she wrote these words, which are sung to the tune of “Oh Christmas Tree” by Rahel Jaskow of Jerusalem, Israel.

Apostrophe (Oh Christmas Tree)

by Eileen Thorpe

Apostrophe, apostrophe
You drive me oh so batty.
Apostrophe, apostrophe
Your overuse is a travesty.
Some people just can’t get enough
They must think you’re hot stuff
Apostrophe, apostrophe
Some rules to avoid catastrophe.

It’s hers and theirs and yours and its
when you want to possess a bit
And when you need to pluralize,
You don’t need to apostrophize.
And what of words that end in esess?
An apostrophe will only make a mess’s.

I wonder why you so confuse
I’m sure you’re tired of this abuse.
Apostrophe, apostrophe
You drive me oh so batty.

Wasn't that fabulous? Thanks again to Eileen Thorpe and  Rahel Jaskow. You can check out Rahel's blog Elms in the Yard, at http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.com/, and listen to clips from her award-winning CD, Day of Rest, at http://cdbaby.com/cd/rahel/.

** Some people would argue that I could have used an apostrophe here to clarify that I meant multiple instances of the three-dimensional it, but in light of the topic of this transcript, I think it would have caused more confusion than clarity. For a further discussion of using apostrophes in unusual constructions, see the Third Use page of the Apostrophe Protection Society's wiki.


  1. Burchfield, R. W, ed. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Third edition. New York: Oxford, 1996, p. 61.
  2. Cavella, C., and Kernodle, R.A.  How the Past Affects the Future: The Story of the Apostrophehttp://www.american.edu/tesol/wpkernodlecavella.pdf (accessed December 21, 2006).

Further Reading

Apostrophe Protection Society

Banana image, by Evan Amos via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY SA-3.0




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