Thursday, December 24, 2009

The grocers/grocer's/grocers' apostrophe

At my public lecture the other day, a questioner raised the matter of the grocer's apostrophe - that's the apostrophe's in potato's, apple's and carrot's.

I said I wasn't particularly bothered as long as I get my potato's.

I was pleased to see support for my position on the BBC programme QI last week, where Stephen Fry said: "People have been ridiculing what has become known as the grocer's apostrophe since the eighteenth century. The Oxford Companion to the English Language notes that there was never a golden age in which the rules for the use of the possessive apostrophe in English were clear cut, and known, understood and followed by most educated people - never."

Have a look at this nice 'apostrophes for Africa' sketch with Omid Djalili playing the part of Lynne Truss, and Marcus Brigstocke on the grammar bullies on Room 101.