Saturday, January 27, 2007


Yes, you are.

Notice that I didn't say "Yes, your."

I read your (not "you're") mistakes everywhere -- on blogs, in e-mails and on signs and brochures.

"The Earth celebrates it's 10th anniversary on the wagon its been riding since 1996."


"It sucks when your nodding out and everyone else wants to smoke the last of you're opium."


"Their smoking the last of they're weed, and still have a month to go."


And then there's the related two/to/too problem, which we'll get into later ("They drank to much and then went too the zoo" -- EEK!).

Please, for your sake (because it's the abuser who looks lazy and uninformed and will eventually wind up in Grammar Prison, not the reader) -- print and clip this quick lesson and then put it into use:

It's = It is (It's a longshot but the Bears could win)

Its = possession (The owner bit its dog in the face)

You're = You are (You're being advised to stop abusing the apostrophe immediately)

Your = possession (But it's your choice if you decide not to. Of course it's my choice to stop reading your butchered words).

They're = They are (They know better but they're doing it anyway)

Their = possession (It's their apostrophe and they're going to put it wherever they want, dammit!)

Then there's the possession problem when it comes to nouns:

In "The owner's dogs ate her breakfast," "dogs" is plural (no apostrophe) and "owner's" is possessive -- which does require an apostrophe.

Plural = No apostrophe. Ever: "Her cars won't run"

Possession (when it's not a pronouns such as your, it, her or their) = requires an apostrophe. As in, "Casey's car still won't run but at least it's hers." or "The car's heat vent emitted a strange odor."

Two = number. "She gave up after two sun salutations -- which to her mind were two too many."

Too = “also” (“I want some soy ice cream, too.”) and “in excess" ("They ate too much soy ice cream and were no longer able to bind in the two Marichyasana twists")

To = all other uses. "He was too lazy to go to the shala and gained two pounds.".


If you're an analytical, Iyengarian type and need the actual rules regarding the apostrophe:

The apostrophe has three uses:

1) to form possessives of nouns
2) to show the omission of letters
3) to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters.

And from ApostropheAbuseDotOrg:

Apostrophes are to be used:

In a contraction to denote a missing letter or letters

The morons can't spell. CORRECT

To denote possession

The moron's paper used unacceptable grammar. CORRECT

Apostrophes are not used for plurals. Ever. Under any circumstances. At all.

The moron's indiscriminately use apostrophes anywhere they please. INCORRECT

Apostrophes are not used for the possessive form of it, nor are they used in ours, yours or hers.

Got it?

If not, keep going:

From Britain's Apostrophe Abuse Society, which is far too (not "to") polite if you ask me:

The rules concerning the use of Apostrophes in written English are very simple:
1. They are used to denote a missing letter or letters, for example:
I can't instead of I cannot
I don't instead of I do not
it's instead of it is

2. They are used to denote possession, for example:
the dog's bone
the company's logo
Jones's bakery (but Joneses' bakery if owned by more than one Jones)

... but please note that the possessive form of it does not take an apostrophe any more than ours, yours or hers do

the bone is in its mouth

... however, if there are two or more dogs, companies or Joneses in our example, the apostrophe comes after the 's':
the dogs' bones
the companies' logos
Joneses' bakeries

3. Apostrophes are NEVER ever used to denote plurals! Common examples of such abuse (all seen in real life!) are:
Banana's for sale which of course should read Bananas for sale
Menu's printed to order which should read Menus printed to order
MOT's at this garage which should read MOTs at this garage
1000's of bargains here! which should read 1000s of bargains here!
New CD's just in! which should read New CDs just in!
Buy your Xmas tree's here! which should read Buy your Xmas trees here!

Note: Special care must be taken over the use of your and you're as they sound the same but are used quite differently:
your is possessive as in this is your pen
you're is short for you are as in you're coming over to my house

We are aware of the way the English language is evolving during use, and do not intend any direct criticism of those who have made the mistakes above. We are just reminding all writers of English text, whether on notices or in documents of any type, of the correct usage of the apostrophe should you wish to put right mistakes you may have inadvertently made.


  1. Anonymous10:38 AM

    thank you! i love reading your blog, found it because i was looking for yoga related blogs.
    and this post speaks straight from my heart...
    i just posted an ad, and the replies i got are filled with misplaced apostrophes and all that stuff.
    seems like my english teacher did a good job. one of the teachers i'll honor during class today, frau kopetsch. :)
    by the way, that plural apostrophe mistake is a common thing in germany, for some reason we've started putting apostrophes everywhere, even though we don't use them as much. but whenever something goes on sale now it is "t-shirt's", "DVD's", arrrrrrgh!

  2. Anonymous7:00 PM

    How doe's all that work in Espanish'?

    Seriously, great thinking on the subject of illiterate morons.

  3. Anonymous1:39 PM

    How am I going to explain this all to my six year old who is just starting to read and write? No wonder the english language is so hard to learn!

  4. Oh thank God. Can you tackle "further" and "farther" next? And don't forget to clarify "there" in the "they're/their" trilogy. That one really throws 'em.