Letter from an Apostrophe

Dear Students,

I am so misunderstood! You’ve probably noticed… I have a bit of a jealousy problem. I am often possessive of the things that follow me. However, I am also a very loyal fellow and do my best to unify other words when letters and numbers have to be omitted.

Since I know you tend to get confused, here are a few tips that will ensure you use me correctly:

First, don’t forget to add me (plus an s) to indicate ownership to singular and plural nouns that don’t already end in “s”. For example, if you are writing about a cookie belonging to Sarah, you need to add an apostrophe + s after you write her name. That gooey, warm, sugar cookie is Sarah’s, and you need to make sure to use me so that everyone realizes the cookie belongs to her. (You see, she would not be very happy if her cookie was stolen.)

Even if you need to give the rights of ownership to a singular proper noun, or someone or something whose name already ends with an “s,” you should still add me plus an “s” after the noun. For example, if Sarah’s last name is James, you would write that Sarah James’s cookies are adorned with rainbow sprinkles. This applies unless you’re writing about someone as important as Moses or Jesus. In that case, you can just leave me hanging by myself after the “s” that ends their name. Don’t worry, I won’t be too lonely.

Lastly, if you’re indicating belonging of something to a plural noun that ends in s, you only need to add me after the s. For example, if you want to remark on the sprinkles on the cookies, you would place me after the “s” in cookies. That way, everyone will understand that the cookies’ sprinkles are very colorful.

Though I can get a little jealous of things that belong to me, I am also a loyal peacekeeper and try my best to help other words where I am needed. When letters have to be omitted in contractions, I kindly stand in the place of any missing letters to hold the word together. For example, if you wanted to combine the words “did” and “not” when complaining that Sarah did not want to share her delicious cookie, you need to place me in between the “n” and the “t” in place of the missing “o” so that I can hold the word together and help you to indicate that Sarah didn’t want to share her cookie.

I know, I know, I’m a complicated bloke. However, we’ll get along fine as long as you remember to use me correctly and avoid my pet peeves. I absolutely detest when students try to use me for a possessive pronoun, or even worse, to form plurals. For example, there is absolutely no reason to use me when writing that Sarah has two cookie’s. There is nothing worse than hanging around in a word for no reason at all! It will also help if you remember that the word “its” is already possessive. You only need to add me between the “t” and “s” if I am needed for a contraction. For example, it’s now time for me to conclude this letter so I can go enjoy one of Sarah’s cookies.

Good luck writers!


Alphie Apostrophe

Written by Leah

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For more information on how to properly use apostrophes and other punctuation marks, check out our Apostrophes handout and the Quick Reference Flyer page of our website!

Presidents are People Too

President’s Day is a holiday dedicated to all of the U.S. presidents, both past and present. It is a day where Americans can reflect upon and remember the actions of historic presidents like George Washington as well as the more recent presidents who were elected during our lifetime. This day gives us reason to recall the incredible feats of President Abraham Lincoln, who preserved the Union throughout the turmoil of the American Civil War, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who guided the U.S. during economic depression and world war. Also, this day allows us to commemorate the tragedies of past presidents like the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas during the presidential motorcade. Most Americans are aware of the well-known presidents and their claims to fame. However, presidents are people, too, and they have lived through some interesting periods in American history. Behind every presidential figure lies a trove of fascinating facts about their lives.

We believe that the man or woman elected as president cannot be some average Joe off the street. Although one must certainly be qualified to be president, all of the men elected to office have had their shortcomings. Thomas Jefferson—founding father, writer of the Declaration of Independence, and 3rd president of the U.S.—gravely feared public speaking. In fact, during his entire presidency, he only delivered two speeches. He is not the only president with a phobia. Ulysses S. Grant, the acclaimed general of the Civil War and 18th president of the U.S., could not bear the sight of blood. Yet, he led the Union army to victory in the bloodiest war the United States has ever experienced. Unlike Jefferson and Grant, whose concerns are understandable, other presidents had irrational fears. For example, the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, was afraid of electricity. Since it had just been invented, Harrison often refused to flip light switches in the White House, believing he would be electrocuted if he did. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who led the U.S. through World War II, was deeply superstitious. It was common for him to refuse to dine with thirteen people or travel on the thirteenth day of the month as a safety precaution. Like any other person, presidents have fears and concerns that contradict the heroic persona we often think we see them in.

Some of the presidents were incredibly rugged men who lived during periods that we have no experience in. Many of them grew up on the frontier where the wilderness spread for miles and unknown people resided. They developed tough characteristics that they carried with them into their presidency for both their benefit and downfall. The 7th president, Andrew Jackson, is commonly known as the presidential bad-boy of American history and for good reason. Throughout his life, he fought in one-hundred duels (which were legal in his day). Duels were serious ordeals; many famous Americans of that period were involved and sometimes killed in these confrontations. Jackson was shot twice during his tenure as a dueler, once taking a bullet in the chest and another in the arm. Along with Old Hickory (Jackson’s nickname), Abe Lincoln was also a tough guy. Lincoln had a talent in wrestling, winning nearly three-hundred matches during his day. His towering frame gave him the advantage in wrestling matches, making him a formidable opponent to all who challenged him. Both of these presidents were the types of people you did not want to mess with unless you had a good reason.

Throughout history, presidents have had a lasting impact on the United States. Martin Van Buren, 8th president of the U.S., impacted the language we speak today in a very unique way. During his election campaign in 1840, he went by the nickname: Old Kinderhook. In order to create a snappier way of saying this mouthful of a nickname, people referred to him as “OK.” His supporters would lug around signs with the initials on it and, little did they know, we still use “OK” to this day. In fact, it is one of the prominent words in our everyday language.

As humans, we all possess interesting facts about our lives. Every president, from the most prominent to the nearly forgotten, has a fascinating side to his life story. Though we create presidents to be larger-than-life figures, they are people, too, with mistakes, fears, desires, and stories.

Written by Jack

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Works Cited:

Hapsis, Emmanuel. “Weird Facts You Never Knew about the U.S. Presidents.” KQED, Feb. 2016. https://www.kqed.org/pop/20516/weird-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-u-s-presidents.

History.com Editors. “Presidents Day 2019.” History.com, Aug 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/presidents-day.

Treat Yo’self: Great Valentine’s Tips for One

“If you’re sad about being alone on Valentine’s Day, just remember that nobody loves you on any other day of the year either,” a snarky Facebook meme reads. After a hearty laugh, I sank down into my onesie pajamas considering my Valentine’s Day plans. I immediately thought of me and other celebrators buying flowers, chocolate, overbearing cologne, and doing all of the other materialistic things we would normally do for our Valentines. Between the beep-beep-beep of the cash register in my head and my desire not to indulge in this year’s cliché festivities, I stumbled upon an idea: treat yourself this treat yoself 1Valentine’s Day. Obviously, it is better to give than to receive, and we can all agree that it’s important to show love to others. However, many of us dedicate the entire day to showing everyone but ourselves such affection. It’s time we claim this day as one to cherish those we love, most importantly ourselves.

Tip One: Go to Work

I’ll admit, this option isn’t the most fun, but consider it: many V-day celebrators do their bests to take off work or get off early for the special day as romantic gestures are often prohibited in professional settings. Therefore, you would have at least a couple of hours to peaceably avoid the holiday. Secondly, your job will keep your mind occupied on your task and help you to momentarily forget about the hoopla as you work. Finally, if you find yourself still sore over the matter, at least you’ve earned some cash to do a little retail therapy.

Tip Two: Pamper Yourself

Nothing says “I love me” like a little self-care. Give your skin a sweet treat with a DIY strawberry sugar scrub. Simply mix 1 cup cane sugar, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, ¾sugar scrub cup of coconut oil, and 1 table spoon of vanilla extract. Whip yourself up some delicious treats like these Valentines Brownie Truffles. You can also buy face masks, chocolate, flowers, and anything else that you feel would make the day awesome for you. The point is to make yourself feel good – mind, body, and soul.

Tip Three: Go Out

Just because you don’t have a special someone, it doesn’t mean you must stay in the house on Valentine’s Day. Take yourself out to a restaurant and choose a small table, or a seat at the bar, if dining alone is intimidating. You can also go to a spa, concert, or even anti-Valentine’s Day events.

Tip Four: Celebrate Love in General

Who says you have to be alone on Valentine’s Day? If we celebrate love in a general sense and not just a romantic one, we can be easily reminded of all the ways we could enjoy this special day. Go out with friends for bowling or a movie. Have a stay-cation with your favorite furry feline or precious pooch. Have a family game night or go out to eat together. Do something you enjoy with and for those you love, especially you. Treat yo’self!

treat yoself 2


Written by Ashley

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The Training Process

When I walked into the University Writing Center early one morning, I did not realize that I would get the news of a lifetime. My boss approached me about transitioning from the receptionist position to that of a consultant in the UWC. After I heard the word training, my heart started to beat faster, a smile crept across my face, and I started to feel the adrenaline kick in. I have always had a passion for writing, and now I could share my passion with others. In order to officially become a consultant, I had to complete an intense training program to ensure that I could give every student reputable input. For example, each consultant must complete a training manual, read various books, learn about different formats, observe sessions with other consultants, participate in mock sessions, and review specific grammatical rules. By completing each of these steps, I learned many things that allowed me to become a better consultant. I saw how each consultant interacts with the students, picked up on different techniques, and gained a greater perspective of the services the Writing Center offers.

Thanks to the intense training, every consultant in the Writing Center is qualified to help students with various steps of the writing process. For example, consultants are able to help with anything from the brainstorming process to formatting the works cited page correctly. In order to ensure that each consultant knows the correct information pertaining to these topics and everything in between, it takes most consultants a semester to complete the training process. Interestingly, it took me approximately one semester to complete my training. While it is a strenuous process, I would not want it any other way. I absorbed numerous lessons throughout training and discovered that the Writing Center is better than I could have ever expected.

I found that each consultant wants to help students excel and expound their knowledge in writing; however, I realized that it is much more than that. Throughout training, I saw how every employee in the Writing Center genuinely cares about and loves each person who walks into the office. In every encounter, they want to be the light of Christ who shares His heart and Spirit. During times of confusion and stress, I witnessed consultants reassure students and encourage them. Nobody within the Writing Center wants a student to walk away from the office weighed down with stress or anxiety. Instead, they want to see students walk out of the office with their heads held high and a smile on their faces.

During my training, I learned more about the writing process as well as the heart and mission of the UWC. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and am blessed to work in such an amazing office. I encourage everybody to stop by the Writing Center to meet some amazing people and receive help on a paper. I cannot wait to consult with you!

Written by Trisha

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The Writing Center is currently hiring high-achieving English students who are interested in helping peers improve their writing. If you are interested in interviewing with us, please stop by our office in the basement of the Collins Learning Center (Room 001) to pick up an application today!