Why oh why, dear reader, do folks put an apostrophe before the ‘s’ in your common-or-garden plural?

As we’ve talked about before, an apostrophe only ever signifies possession, as in the dog’s bone, or a missing letter or letters, as in the dog’s got a bone which is short for the dog has got a bone. But to start a sentence with ‘The teacher’s taught the pupils’ betrays an alarming lack of knowledge of that simple rule.

While we’re on the subject of plurals and apostrophes, let me just remind those unsure of how the possessives work with singular and plural nouns. The apostrophe goes immediately after the thing or things doing the possessing. So we write the dog’s bone, but the parents’ association. Where it gets confusing is where the thing doing the possessing has a built-in plural. So, we say the children’s toys, the and the couple’s daughter, but the couples’ children when it’s more than one couple doing the possessing :-). And then we get onto ‘folk’, from the German word volk, meaning people. Some people prefer to say folk, some say folks, so where do you put the apostrophe then? Wherever you like in my view.

Like I say, folk’s punctuation drives me mad…

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