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  • John M Donovan

Enough with the Apostrophes Already

Updated: Nov 17

A few weeks ago on Facebook I got involved in a thread full of people wailing and gnashing their teeth at the alarming number of chuckleheads who insist on dropping apostrophes into plural words. Don’t get me wrong—I am among the wailers and teeth-gnashers, mainly because deleting such apostrophes with a flamethrower is illegal.


As it happens, the Casey’s convenience store in downtown Adel has a collection jar for Toys for Tots. Maybe. The handwritten sign on the jar says Toy’s for Tot’s, so it’s possible that they’re collecting for a shady organization that actually doesn’t care about tots in the least.


However, Occam’s Razor tells me that the sign was made by someone who wasn’t paying attention during the lessons on plurals in first through eighth grade or ever. So when I was buying a half-gallon of milk at Casey’s the other night, I told the cashier I’d put a $20 bill in the jar if they’d give me a marker and let me delete the apostrophes on the sign.


The cashier was baffled by this proposal. And to be fair, Casey’s employee training probably doesn’t cover what to do when confronted by a teeth-gnashing English major. She said “What?” and I turned the jar around to show her.


“These apostrophes aren’t supposed to be here,” I explained. “Toys and tots are plural, so they don’t need the apostrophes.”


The cashier demurred. “Twenty dollars,” I said. “All I need is a marker.”


And then she said “No, I can’t let you do that.”


She’s in on it! I thought to myself. She’s the mastermind behind the shady “Toy’s for Tot’s” scam, which collects money from unsuspecting shoppers who think they’re donating to Toys for Tots!


I almost told her I was on to her nefarious scheme, but instead I said “Fair enough,” paid for my milk, and left to look for a charity without any plurals in its name.

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