Today's Word Nerd Wednesday is brief but relevant in the Christmas gifting season, and it revolves around a very simple but often-forgotten rule of punctuation that makes my eye twitch whenever I see it.
Remember this one, for my sake:
Plurals do not take an apostrophe.
You wear shoes, not shoe's.
You have kids, not kid's.
And when you deliver a plate of cookies to the neighbors, the gift tag shouldn't be addressed to the Jensen's.
You are giving the gift to a family comprised of lots of people named Jensen.
I invariably see little misplaced apostrophes everywhere on gift tags, Christmas card envelopes, and more. Twitch. Twitch. Twitch.
It's an illness. I know that. Humor me.
But why is the apostrophe wrong?
Here's the deal: An apostrophe before the S makes a word possessive. On gift tags, you're addressing a plural group, not declaring that one of them owns anything.
Worse, if the apostrophe is before the S (as is usual for this kind of mistake), it's singular. It's not even plural for the entire family to own anything.
Apostrophe-s ('s) means that there's just one shoe, one kid, one Jensen.
So these would be correct:
The shoe's lace broke.
The kid's teacher was nice.
I could find a correct sentence for the word, Jensen's, but it would probably sound weird, because you don't usually use a last name in a singular sense unless you're in the army or on a sports team ("Jensen's tackle was awesome"), and I can't think of a single situation where "the" belongs in front of it ("the Jensen's tackle"? Um, no.).
As a special Christmas gift to me, please, please, please, when you address gift tags or Christmas card envelopes this year, restrain your pen. Don't write that little jot of an apostrophe!
Simply address your well wishes to the Jensens, the Mitchells, and the Smiths.
My non-twitching eye will thank you profusely.
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