Mookie wrote a plural with an apostrophe-s yesterday as she was working on her homework. She can go ahead and become a grocer, but if she does, she’s going to be one who knows how to write plural nouns, damn it, so I told her that you don’t use an apostrophe there. I wasn’t sure if she was ready to hear more, but I thought I’d make a try at it, so I explained that there are only two times you use apostrophes: to show that something belongs to someone (Mookie’s room) or to be in place of missing letters as a kind of shortcut (don’t). Here, Mookie cut in to say, “Or, like, lunes, martes, miercoles . . . ”
Lune’s, marte’s, miercole’s? I thought with a shudder. “No, honey, you don’t need it there. Lunes is just l-u-n-e-s. No apostrophe.”
“No, but after the word. Lunes . . . martes . . . ”
Aha! “Oh, you mean when it’s down here,” I said, pointing to where a comma goes. She nodded.
“That’s called a comma,” I said, and, realizing they look exactly the same, conceded, “When it’s up here it’s called an apostrophe, and when it’s down here it’s called a comma.”
She gave me the world-weary look that says, “What idiot grownup thought that was a good idea?” At least I could tell her she was right about the use of a comma. One of them. We won’t tell her about the other 20 comma rules just yet.