Happy National Punctuation Day (a Day Early)!


In celebration of National Punctuation Day, I present that classic example of gentle instruction in the art of punctuation, “Bob the Angry Flower’s Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots.”

Bob's Guide to the Apostrophe

Click image to see cartoon at full size.

Please note that these rules also apply to surnames. Hence, a pair of Smiths, not a pair of Smith’s. A trio of Joneses, not Jones’s or Jones’ or Jone’s or any other horrific apostrophic abomination or pluralistic poppycock. Does the name end in a vowel? No punctuation! Just add an s! Does it end in an s or a z or an x or a ch or the like? No punctuation! Just add an -es!

So, is there any time an apostrophe should appear with a surname? Of course! When you make it a possessive! The Smiths’ house, not the Smith’s house…unless there’s only Smith, and he somehow ranks as the Smith, in which case, he sounds a little full of himself, so I’d avoid him and his house if I were you. Then we have the Joneses’ children, the Romanos’ Winnebago, and the Shostakoviches’ All-You-Can-Eat Tofu and Bean Sprout Bar.

For the love of Bob, stop treating surnames like some alien creatures that need a whole set of rules entirely to themselves. You’re only making things complicated for yourself. Treat surnames just like ordinary words. They happen to be capitalized, but there’s no need to panic as a result and throw out everything you’ve ever learned about plurals and possessives. ’K?


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