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  • Punctuation

    Apostrophes in forming plurals

    In English, there are three primary ways of forming plurals:

    1. Adding s, as in dogs and cats.
    2. Adding es, as in peaches.
    3. Adding an apostrophe and s, used in forming the plurals of letters, as in t‘s.

    Of course, there are some irregular words that do not comply with any of the above rules, such as goose and its plural geese, and moose and its plural moose.

    Ann's WigsWhat seems to be the most common error involving the formation of plurals is the use of an apostrophe and s for forming the plurals of regular words. The apostrophe is only correct when forming the plurals of letters and dates. For any other words, it is incorrect. Thus, writing the plural of apple as apple’s–instead of apples–is considered poor English and should be avoided. Of course, keep in mind that apostrophes do serve a couple of other purposes, one of which is to show possession. In such a case, using an apostrophe to write the apple’s peel would be completely correct.

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    Commas in direct address

    Note: Most people would probably agree that commas are the most confusing punctuation marks because there are so many rules dictating when and how they should be used. I will not attempt to list all the comma rules on this page (there are some excellent sites listed on the Resources page that explain all the rules of comma usage); instead–in keeping with the theme of this site–I will highlight a few of the errors that I’ve observed to be the most common.

    I often receive e-mails that begin with the following greeting: “Hi Rachel.” Although this is certainly a friendly way to begin a letter, it violates one of the many comma rules: Always use a comma when directly addressing someone/something, regardless of whether the direct address is at the beginning or end of the sentence. If the direct address is in the middle of a sentence, use a pair of commas to set off the direct address.

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    Commas with conjunctive adverbs (however, furthermore, etc.)

    Note: Most people would probably agree that commas are the most confusing punctuation marks because there are so many rules dictating when and how they should be used. I will not attempt to list all the comma rules on this page (there are some excellent sites listed on the Resources page that explain all the rules of comma usage); instead–in keeping with the theme of this site–I will highlight a few of the errors that I’ve observed to be the most common.

    When combining two sentences into one compound sentence, a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet) are used.

    Example 1: The festival was to be held today, but it was canceled because of the rainy weather. (comma and coordinating conjunction)

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    Hyphenating self in compound words

    Where's the hyphen?When the word self is used in compound nouns or adjectives like self-storage, self-sufficient, or self-respect, a hyphen is always used between self and the second half of the word.

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