Kung Fu Copywriting Secrets: Apostrophes


I said we weren’t going to do grammar
pedantry stuff tonight, and we’re not. However, this is a thing that people
really get worried about. OK, so if you are talking about more than
one of something, if you have added an S on the end
because there’s more than one of something — you’re indicating a plural — you don’t need an apostrophe. If
you are saying possession — so something that belongs to somebody — so
put an s on there for that. You know “Jordan’s shirt is blue.” Then it’s apostrophe S, OK? If you are
missing out the letter I as in ‘is’ as in “David’s sitting over here” — that does
need an apostrophe because you’re missing something out. But you don’t put it on
for plurals. Now, most people kind of get that, and this isn’t really an apostrophes
lesson, but what I want to do is pick on examples that people who know that rule
anyway get wrong. And its is hard because its is the exception that proves
that proves the rule. Whereas on its — something
that belongs to it — You know, “The Sun has got its hat on” —
is it his hat on? Anyway, “The Sun has got it its hat on” — it
doesn’t take an apostrophe. It doesn’t take an apostrophe unless it
is ‘it is’. No apostrophe possession is in its, so that’s the exception,
which is annoying. The English language is full of annoying
exceptions. Now, heres the one that everyone… not everyone gets wrong, but
nine times out of ten when you see it wrong it will be this. When you’ve got
acronyms people think sticking an S on the end looks weird — and
it does. It just looks weird. And so you think “Well it must have an apostrophe,”
because GCSEs, GCSE is a thing, so you stick an
S on the end and it looks odd. You know — TVs. It’s the same with abbreviations, you
know, you see talk about the greengrocer’s apostrophe — but caulis — you know, as in short for cauliflowers, you
know. Caulis that just looks like ‘collis’ it looks like you should
pronounce it differently. And so they stick an S on it because it’s not ‘collis’ it’s ‘caulis’. But it’s wrong, you don’t actually need
an apostrophe there or there, unless you’re saying “The TV’s on” or “The TV’s screen is
marvellous.” That’s fine. Saying “There are lots of TVs
in this shop.” — you don’t need it. I think we have one more example. Oh yes, we have! Just as a point of
interest. OK, two things about shaky. That was a really poor
thing for people who are really old like me. Yeah, obviously here you’ve got the apostrophe
because it’s an abbreviation. It’s not Shaking Stevens. I wonder if it’s actually on his driving
license. I don’t know. With the apostrophe —
that’s how Shakin’ Stevens spells it. However, the thing that’s really
interesting is what about something that belongs to Shakin’ Stevens? How do we do the apostrophe S on there? OK, for example: Shakin’ Stevens’ game for
the ZX Spectrum. This is actually a thing! Was it an
album track or a B-side? At the end of an album that — I don’t know
if any of you remember Sinclair Spectrums — but you had a tape that went [tape noise]
and that’s how they loaded. It was you know, like played sounds through a tape
recorder, and if you recorded onto tape this track on the end of one of Shaky’s
albums you had a little game, which is really random. Now, the thing that people
ask is: is it Shakin’ Stevens’ game S then apostrophe as you would do with a
thing that’s plural, or is it Shakin’ Stevens’s game where Shakin’ Stevens S apostrophe S? And
the answer is — if you look at the are the usage guides of the major magazines of the
world — the answer is there is no answer. It’s
whatever sounds right. So say it out loud. If you would
generally say Shakin’ Stevens’ game go with that; if you would generally say
Shaking’ Stevens’s game then it’s S apostrophe S. It’s the one that
that when you talk about it sounds right, and most of the time it’s fairly
obvious. Hi, thanks for watching the video. If you
would like to see another one — right here. Alternatively, if you want something to read, Blog’s
over there. Hi, this is Shaky. If you’ve got a Sinclair Spectrum 48k
computer why don’t you try my game? The program
follows shortly. If you haven’t, please fast forward to
the end of the tape so that you can listen to the album again.

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