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The apostrophe can strike fear into business people (and let’s be honest, all people) when it needs to be used. The most common error, as seen in the example above, is when an apostrophe is used for a plural noun. This has led to this particular error being called the ‘grocer’s apostrophe’ because of commonly seen examples such as ‘banana’s, apple’s and pear’s’ on market signage.
The Key Rules:
Apostrophes are used to indicate possession (eg. John’s bag; Students’ Union)
They can also be used to indicate a missing part of a word (eg. they’re = they are; who’s = who is etc.)
Never use apostrophes to make the plural of a common noun (eg. Two Computer’s; The student’s enjoyed their trip.)
Not everyone can be expected to have perfect spelling, but when producing marketing materials you need to double and triple-check all your spellings. Most design software used to create print materials such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign do not have inbuilt spell checkers, so copying the text into a word processor or online spell-checker will help you spot those tricky errors.
The Key Rules:
Double and triple-check your spelling; ideally having a second pair of eyes and a spell checker to make sure nothing escapes your attention.
Pay attention to the differences between American and British English: if your spell checker is configured to its default English (US) setting, words like ‘theatre, colour and realise’ will be automatically corrected to ‘theater, color and advertize’ in American English.
This example is a double fail, with the misuse of an apostrophe (you haven’t forgotten already, have you?) for the plural of ‘employees’ and the errant use of ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ to show the ownership of the ‘hands’.
The Key Rules:
‘Their’ is used to indicate the ownership of an object (eg. Their spelling is the worst in the class; Their ears were burning).
‘They’re’ is a shortened version of ‘they are’ and should only be used when it is possible to use these two words in their place. (eg. They’re great friends; They’re writing too quickly).
‘There’ is the most common of the three words, and is simply used when you can’t use either ‘they’re or ‘their’. Its functions are:
A pronoun used to introduce something (eg. There is a big event today).
An adverb indicating the opposite of ‘here’ (eg. He’s sitting over there).
An adjective to emphasise which person is being discussed (eg. That big guy over there is a great speller).
A noun that simply means ‘that place’ (eg. We went there because we were hungry.)
Have you noticed any other common spelling or grammar mistakes in print that we haven’t mentioned here?
Leave a comment below and let us know what grammar or spelling mistakes you have spotted that have put you off using a company.