The one mistake we are going to hone in on in today’s Grammar 101 posting is the improper listing of decades in numerical format. Referring to the culture or the history of a particular decade is a common feature among blog content creation. Among the most popular blog subjects – homemaking, fashion, pop culture, finance – years are mentioned frequently and thus this is an incredibly important aspect of online grammar that must be addressed.
Simply put, you do not include an apostrophe when referring to a specific decade. For example: “The company Instructure has been developing LMS classroom strategies since the early 2000’s.” is incorrect. In this case an apostrophe would denote possession, despite the decade not being in possession of anything within the sentence. Yet in nearly 50% of the blog postings I read where a specific decade is listed, an apostrophe has been included.
To prevent yourself from making this seemingly common mistake, simply stop and remind yourself the rules regarding apostrophes. A decade is a thing and thus a noun. Nouns with apostrophes are always either in possession or in action. If you are merely referring to the aspects of a particular decade, then you only have to add the “s” to denote plurality.
For those of you thinking about contractions, keep in mind that a decade’s status as a plural subject prevents a decade from ever sitting in front of “is” or “was.” Thus, such a contraction-based reason for writing “2000’s” would never exist in the first place.
So let’s recap: There is virtually no situation where an apostrophe should be included when referring to a decade. It is simply a matter of plurality, and as such needs only an “s” to make sense. Anything more than that is violating basic laws of the English language.
The preceding was a guest post by Nancy E. and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michael Kwan or Beyond the Rhetoric.