Last month marked a sombre moment in the history of British grammar with the closing of the Apostrophe Protection Society (APS).
Founded in 2001, the APS was set up by a retired journalist who ran a valiant campaign against omissions or other incorrect uses of this often misused piece of punctuation.
The apostrophe has been in use in the English language since the 16th Century, and in French since the 15th Century. The mark, used to denote omitted letters in contraction (such as ‘isn’t’), or the possessive case of nouns (e.g. one day’s notice) has often been incorrectly used or forgotten in recent time. The APS launched campaign against prolific apostrophe abusers – from local councils to big businesses – to educate about, and complain against, the incremental erasure of the correctly used apostrophe.
In December 2019, the APS surrendered the fight against what it called ‘the ignorance and laziness’ of contemporary times and was shut down by its founder. It may indeed be ignorance or laziness which has contributed to the apostrophe’s decline, but maybe this also marks a new chapter in the evolution of the rules of the English language. George Bernard Shaw was no fan of them, and counter campaigns to straightforwardly abolish the apostrophe have also been gathering momentum for years.
Whatever side of the evolution debate you agree with, the apostrophe is here to stay, at least for now, and it is important to get it right in your writing. If you want to make a living from your writing, or even if you just want to polish your grammar skills, you can download our Freelance Writing for Businesses Diploma Course and get those apostrophe skills on point.