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Punctuation Mississippi

- More Use of the Apostrophe -

Other contractions which use the apostrophe are those that have become accepted because they are widely used:

    Following the debate at two of the clock, the class of 1998 will attend a rock and roll concert.

The underlined words are almost always pushed together in our speech. To show this in our writing, we use an apostrophe to indicate where we have omitted letters or numbers:

    Following the debate at two o'clock, the class of '98 will attend a rock'n'roll concert.

Another use of the apostrophe is to indicate plurals. Consider the following example:

    There are three 2s, seven rs, and two thes in the final sentence of the opening paragraph.

Normal practice is to highlight the plural by using an italic font for the term, and then placing an apostrophe and an s in normal font after the term: 2's, r's, the's:

    There are three 2's, seven r's, and two the's in the final sentence of the opening paragraph.

An example of a plural for which this rule is optional is the reference to a decade:

    One source was discovered in the 1830's.
    One source was discovered in the 1830s.

Choose whichever reads best, but be consistent.

A final example involves artistic license:

    D'ya think the Mississippi could'a'been named the Missouri? Really -- I'm dead serious! Y'know it's poss'ble 'cause the Missouri ain't no shorter'n the upper Mississippi.

Here, each apostrophe helps to give the reader a sense of how something might sound when it is spoken. It can also be used to give the sound of a dialect. Use good judgment for this application of the apostrophe.


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