UK's Apostrophe Protection Society closes in face of 'ignorance and laziness'

UK's Apostrophe Protection Society closes in face of 'ignorance and laziness'
Photo credit: Apostrophe Protection Society

When it comes to apostrophes, either you couldn't care less whether it's 'it's' or 'its', or you're (or is it your?) a grammar Nazi who believes the English language will collapse if they're not used correctly.

There is no confusion as to where John Richards stands on the subject. The retired journalist founded the Apostrophe Protection Society (APS)  in 2001, and since then has been on a crusade to "preserve the correct use of this currently much-abused punctuation mark in all forms of text written in the English Language".

Sadly (or depending on your opinion, fortunately) the APS has decided to lay down its arms, with Richards conceding that "ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won".

The 96-year-old shared the news on the society's website, telling BBC News it would remain open for a limited time for "reference and interest". 

As well as sharing the rules laying out when and when not to use an apostrophe, the website also contains an archive of photos showing misused apostrophes, including images sent in by other apostrophe-opinionated people. 

"When I first set it up I would get about 40 emails or letters a week from people all over the world," Richards told BBC News. "Many were saying how it was about time that we had something like this. But then two years ago it started to tail off and nowadays I hardly get anything."

Richards worked for most of his life as a journalist - first as a reporter and then a sub-editor - before taking up the cause to correct faulty grammar on a less professional, though equally passionate, front after he retired.

Although he may have given up the ghost when it comes to apostrophes, he isn't ruling out shifting his attention to commas.

"The use of the comma is appalling. When I read some newspaper websites, they just don't understand what it is used for."