"The apostrophe is your friend," I told my freshpersons, but they seemed skeptical, preferring to eschew apostrophes altogether or use them incorrectly to form plural nouns. "That's called the grocer's apostrophe," I told them, just in case the question ever comes up on Jeopardy or something. They don't need to know how to identify a grocer's apostrophe, or even grocers' apostrophes; they need to know how to use apostrophes to form possessives, a topic that has no doubt been troubling students since the invention of the apostrophe--but not enough to motivate them to finally learn the rules of apostrophe placement. And so I gave them the whole song and dance, all the while wondering when the Apostrophe Dance will be featured on Dancing with the Stars. (Not Star's.)
Apostrophes dance across the page;
in plural nouns they're all the rage.
They do-si-do and stick their feet
in "it's" when "its" is needed. Beat
the big bass drum for proper nouns:
"Charle's" keeps on swinging round,
racing to keep up with "Jone's."
Prancing into forbidden zones,
these marks dance on with steps so errant
I fear I'll never cure their tarrant-
ism or constrain their gams
to Arthur Murray diagrams.
Step one: write the plural noun.
If at the end an s is found,
add an apostrophe. If not,
add 's. Apostrophes gavotte
in graceful, orderly progression
when used to indicate possession.