One of the requests for posts, once upon a time, was for grammar snark. Not in so many words, of course, but the reader asked if I might elucidate on grammar and writing mechanics.
I just wrote up a "study guide" for someone who has consistent issues with homonyms and apostrophes, so I thought that sounded like a good place to start. For those of you who have graduated college, hopefully this is all very basic to you. But then, I had several college classmates who didn't know these rules, and they never taught it in any English class I took in college, so it is possible to make it to adulthood without understanding how apostrophes work.
An apostrophe always, with one exception, indicates that there is a letter or letters missing. If I see one, I'm mentally filling in that space. Here are a few examples:
Can't = cannot, with the apostrophe standing in for n and o
I'm = I am, with the apostrophe standing in for the a
It's = It is, with the apostrophe standing in for the second i
They're = They are, with the apostrophe standing in for the a
I deliberately read contractions this way when I'm editing, so that I can spot potential apostrophe abuse. It serves me well.
The exception to the apostrophe rule is when apostrophe s ('s) is used to show that something belongs or is closely related to the object:
The cat's food
The library's hours
His mother's phone
Where this gets confusing is, if we're working with a pronoun, you don't use apostrophe s:
This is just a rule you have to memorize and know. The way I initially remembered it was because "my" doesn't have an apostrophe s.
With English, it's always the damn exceptions that get you. Within this one little rule, there's an exception, then an exception to that, and you just have to try to remember, all while you're trying to get the sentence off the ground and going where you need it to.
Honestly, if I were anything but a pantster, I'd be putting these grammar posts first, because it's important to know your basic building blocks before you can put them together to make a story. If you're churning out whole manuscripts, it may be a bit late, now, to start fixing your apostrophe issues. But it's not too late for future edits, I suppose.
My next post will be less boring and basic, though I can't promise that. I hope someone out there finds this helpful.