Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and can render you a fool

I can be a stickler for correct grammar and punctuation. Understand, I’m far from perfect but I take language seriously, use my words carefully, and rarely go a day without referencing a dictionary or thesaurus.

Put it this way, recently I emailed a media pitch to a reputable financial journalist only to realise after the fact that it contained a grammatical error – not once, but twice! Suffice it to say I’m mortified.

In the English language, as in life, there are a lot of grey areas. Plus, our use of language is constantly evolving. But so, too, are there certain rules of grammar which are non-negotiable.

Such as the use of the apostrophe.

Writing for the Daily Writing Tips, Daniel Scocco explains one of my bugbears:

The apostrophe has a wide range of uses within the English language. Forming plurals, however, is not one of them.

Last week I came across a Forbes article which was heavily peppered with grammatical errors. The contribution related to the legal industry and there were references to General Counsel – ‘counsel’ being both singular and plural – and the abbreviation ‘GC’ throughout. Every time the author wrote the plural of GC he erroneously added an apostrophe.

…involving 30 GC’s

…among participating GC’s

…GC’s might ask themselves

…GC’s willing to invest time

It was a major distraction.

I messaged the contributor, figuring he’d be keen to have the errors corrected. Instead of acknowledging the mistake he responded: “I thank you for your suggested edits. I have seen the apostrophe used different ways and am en route to speak to a group of F500 GC’s where the conference is billed with the apostrophe just that way.”

The late Jimi Hendrix said it best: “I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.”

I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.