My formal training is as a linguist, not an English teacher, so I know that language is a fluid thing. What is considered incorrect can become correct through a critical mass of mainstream usage. But there are just certain “wrongs” that I’d hate to see gain enough traction to become “right”. 

Are you guilty of using any of these? Do you think we should love ‘em (accept these transgressions and let them creep into our textbooks) or leave ‘em?

The Pesky Apostrophe

Mary likes to eat bagel’s with cream cheese and tomato.

I just saw three bird’s in that pine tree.

This one kills me – apostrophes where they don’t belong. Instead of putting a plain old “s” on the end of a word to indicate the plural, people often feel compelled to add an apostrophe, inadvertently rendering it possessive and thoroughly ungrammatical.


Mary likes to eat bagels with cream cheese and tomato.

I just saw three birds in that pine tree.

There are rare cases it’s acceptable to use an apostrophe to indicate plural to avoid grammatical chaos – most often when talking about more than one individual letter.

There are two t’s in the word letter.

Other than that, keep your pesky apostrophe under wraps.

Now that you’re aware of the pesky apostrophe, you won’t believe how often you witness it. In your boss’s emails, plastered on the side of the bus, at the deli—no place is immune. And you’re pretty much guaranteed a pesky apostrophe when an acronym is involved:

CD’s sold here.

Check out our selection of flat screen TV’s!

I really have no explanation for why this error is so rampant, or how it got started in the first place. Frankly, I think it might be too late – the pesky apostrophe appears to have so deeply infiltrated the English-speaking population, it may soon be widely accepted.

What do you think of the pesky apostrophe? Love it or leave it?