I have a problem and I need some advice. First, let it be known that I am an occasional grammar nazi. I usually don't voice my nazi'ness because I've learned that people don't like nazis. And people especially don't like others correcting their grammar. Also, I am an imperfect grammar nazi because i struggle with a few things, grammatically, myself. So who am I to judge? But there is something that I have seen much of lately. One time, two times, 20 times, it's everywhere. I don't mean to criticize because, again, I am imperfect, but I don't know what to do. Here is the offense:
People's inappropriate use of the apostrophe. I think it's gotten just way out of hand and completely out of control to the point where the apostrophe seems to be placed in sentences totally arbitrarily, in an almost erratic "devil may care" attitude, and the poor apostrophe has to suffer, and i do too. We all want to stand for something and if I use an apostrophe' however I want, then what does it mean? Nothing. That's what.
To be more specific, people seem to be afraid to make words plural simply by adding an s onto the end of them. They use the apostrophe as some kind of safety net or a young swimmer's arm floaties. Hang on there, little s. Don't forget your floaty. ' This is quite common with names. The Johnson's. The Stevenson's. The problem is, in my brain, I still hold to the fact that the apostrophe, used that way, is to mean possession. The Johnson's...cow. And I can't reconcile what I've been taught with the way people are using them nowadays. Now, my intent is not to say that everyone is stupid and to stop doing it (though the nazi inside may yearn to scream that), but I just want to know, should I bother trying to come to the bottom of this and possibly, in a kind and gentle way, inform people? I've been taught that if I see something, I should say something, but I also like having friends. So what do I do? Do I conform and just accept that the times, they are a-changin' and there's nothing I can do about it?
Allow me to veer a bit. In this city in which I live, I learned at the very beginning that people say "on line" as in, "I had to stand on line for 20 minutes to buy this jug of milk." Where I grew up, people said "in line" and to me, "on line" means "online" as in, "I am connected to the internet or the world wide web." My first reaction was to scoff and ridicule. But after having lived here for a while I realized that EVERYONE says it and to fight it would be a losing and pitiful battle, that I am in the minority and I should just roll with it. I am not sure I can bring myself to actually say it myself, but I accept that that is just what people say around here and that's ok. Because, let's face it, it's kind of an ambiguous term anyway. In line, on line, a tiny measly preposition that doesn't really mean a whole lot.
So: Do I apply this way of thinking to the apostrophe lesson? I feel like the rules are a bit more strict here, because it IS a rule, a grammar rule. Right? It hasn't changed, has it? We were all taught them, I'm assuming. I mean, I can't ever just conform and start using it the way people are using it. It would be a lie in my heart and I'd betray my own integrity to what I know to be true. But should I just remain silent and know that people are still good, deep down, and to let it slide? Or do I voice my thoughts and concerns and risk annoying everyone around me, assuming I don't/haven't already?
If I decide to take action, am I "crapping on my own doorstep," so to speak? Because I certainly don't want to have to be constantly looking over my shoulder, sweeping up my own grammatical crumbs which I'm sure there will be. Or should I just remain silent and practice a little forgiveness. And I shall continue living, reading things that have an inappropriate apostrophe, and when someone writes, "I was taking dinner to the Moore's" I will always immediately and instinctively look for the person or thing this writer was taking dinner to that belongs to one of the Moores, and that's just something I'm going to have to live with. Is that what should happen? Is this a lost cause? Do I accept it? Am I the minority here? Please, tell me what to do, if not for my own sake, for the sake of the poor apostrophe.