Working in a high school provides ample opportunities for this English major to be tortured by bad grammar. Truly, I worry about some of these kids. Not that I am Miss Perfect Grammar Queen 2007, but I hope I have a grasp of most basic concepts related to the written word.
My pet peeve of the day: the overuse and misuse of possessive apostrophes. Is it really so difficult to understand the concept of possession? Not Linda Blair, head spinning around, spewing pea soup possession, but the simple act of indicating ownership.
You're riding down the road, enjoying a fine day and there it is. Stupidity on Display. Hanging from a rusty mailbox is a lovely wooden sign, carefully carved, which reads, "The Smith's." The Smith's WHAT? The Smith's house? The Smith's mailbox? The Smith's grammatically incorrect sign? In order to save what little sanity I have left, I mentally insert a final word in order to complete the phrase. Say, maybe, The Smith's Hacienda. Or, if I'm feeling particularly snarky, something more like, The Smith's tacky concrete donkey holding brightly colored plastic flowers in its saddlebags.
Notice that I didn't type "it's saddlebags." Because its/it's is the tricky one. Maybe I should say, it's the tricky one. This is the case where you don't use an apostrophe to indicate possession. Only when indicating a contraction of "it is" or "it has." Not fair, creator of English grammar. Not fair at all. How can you expect me to love you when you are so inconsistent and unpredictable?
Apparently the possessive apostrophe bothers other people, too. My sister recently e-mailed me about a sign on the bathroom at the beauty salon she frequents. It reads, "Employee's Only." She said next time she goes, she will take along some Wite-Out. Maybe this particular peeve is genetic, but I don't think so.