Emma Watson’s ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’ Moment

Last week, Emma Watson was seen with a tattoo at a red carpet event. The tattoo said ‘Times Up’ and was in support of the movement against sexual harassment in the workplace which is snowballing, and is a follow on from the #metoo campaign.

Laudable intent. But less-than-laudable grammar!  What really caught everyone’s eye was that the tattoo said ‘Times Up’, rather than ‘Time’s Up’. With her characteristic sense of humour, Watson responded to the criticisms with a tweet: “Fake tattoo proofreading position available. Experience with apostrophes a must.”

Everyone is talking about it! I am happy for Watson, I am happy for the movement. But most of all, I am happy for the APOSTROPHE! Difficult for a punctuation mark to get red carpet attention, but the apostrophe’s done it (yes, and I think I got the apostrophe right, see rules below!).

So maybe we should give it some attention too! When you are out tomorrow, look out for how often the apostrophe is misused. I find more ‘errors of commission’, as compared to Watson’s ‘error of omission’. For instance, within 50 metres of my house is ‘Shri Ganesh Tyre’s’. Not much further down the road is ‘Sai Krishna Sweet’s and Snack’s’. (Raghu tells me that for some reason, in his school, they used to refer to it as a ‘post office comma’).

It may be worth taking a few moments to briefly review the usage (no guarantee we will still  get it right!):

The apostrophe is used in two situations (and I quote all the rules below from https:// en.oxforddictionaries.com/ punctuation/ apostrophe): (1) to show that a thing or person belongs or relates to someone or something: instead of saying the party of Sudha, you can write Sudha’s party; and (2) an apostrophe is used to show that letters or numbers have been omitted. For instance, I’m – short for I am, or he’ll – short for he will.

The biggest controversy about apostrophes is in the its and it’s!

These are the rules to remember:

  • Its(without an apostrophe) means ‘belonging to it’: The dog wagged its tail.
  • It’s(with an apostrophe) means ‘it is’ or ‘it has’: It’s been a long day.

Wondering if apostrophes are really worth a blog? Well Lynne Truss has written a whole book on punctuation and it was a bestseller! Do read her ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

And for more on the apostrophe, including the county which has banned it, go to

https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/05/28/do-we-need-the-apostrophe/

–Meena

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