All bloggers know just how much work goes into producing each and every post and many of us spend a great deal of time, effort and (often) money on our photographic efforts, but creating well written and engaging content is every bit as important to the end result. Not all of us are born great writers or are even that interested in showcasing our writing skills, preferring to focus on the reason we began our blogging journey – the food, but if we want to engage our readers we need to make sure we can at least string a few sentences together sensibly. This can be done in various ways. We don’t all need to head off to do a tertiary English degree to improve our writing, but an understanding of some basic rules of grammar and punctuation will add a professionalism and polish to our writing.
Grammar (which, if the writing skills of my own children are anything to go by, seems to have fallen through the educational net) is the study of the structure of any language and the rules around the use of words in the construction of sentences. Punctuation marks, of course, are symbols used to organise language and inform our inflection of words or phrases when reading or speaking. Apostrophes seem to be the most vexed and misused of these and their incorrect placement can make a world of difference to the meaning of anything we write. I’m as guilty as anyone else of a hurried post and misplaced apostrophes, but the difference this might make to a sentence can be alarming.
Here are some basic rules for use of the apostrophe.
Rule Number 1 – ALWAYS use the apostrophe with contractions. It’s is short for it is or it has, don’t is short for do not, you’re is short for you are – and so on.
Rule Number 2 – Never use the apostrophe with possessive pronouns. Its is a possessive pronoun and used similarly to his (for masculine things) and her (for feminine things). It is gender neutral and never has an apostrophe.
Rule Number 3 – Use the apostrophe to show possession. If one person owns something the apostrophe comes before the ‘s’. For example – girl’s coffee was too hot, the boy’s hat blew away. If more than one person owns the article the apostrophe is placed after the ‘s’. For example – the girls’ coffee was too hot, the boys’ hats blew away.
Rule Number 4 – Never use the apostrophe for the plural of a noun. For example, there is no place for an apostrophe in “The apples were beautifully ripe” or “it takes quite a few eggs to make a pavlova”.
These are all pretty straightforward rules – not difficult to understand and easy to remember, but if you are ever in any doubt simply look it up. We all have Google at our fingertips these days, so have no excuses!