Apprentice finalist in apostrophe gaffe?


Luisa Zissman

Grammar sticklers have got used to the feeling of intense disappointment when they see someone use the apostrophe incorrectly. They could be forgiven for assuming that the individual simply doesn't know any better. However, in the case of Luisa Zissman, the Apprentice finalist, they'd be wrong.

In an exchange on Twitter, she decided to dump it from her business name because she didn't like the way it looked.


Misuse of the apostrophe is so common that we're used to seeing a greengrocer advertising cheap apple's, or a fashion shop selling ladies clothes (in the interest of pedantry that should read apples and ladies').

At the beginning of Zissman's exchange on Twitter, it seemed that this was exactly the sort of thing she was trying to avoid as she designed the logo for her new business. She wrote: "Can you all help me out as I'm crap at grammar. Is it bakers toolkit or baker's toolkit with an apostrophe?! X"

The responses included those who showed their shock that she had done so well on the show, when her education appeared to be lacking in some respects. However, other more helpful responses explained that it should either be Baker's Toolkit or Bakers' Toolkit - depending on whether it was intended for one baker or lots of them.

So far, it seems like a sensible exchange for someone worried about their grasp of grammar. However, things then took a turn for the more bizarre. Zissman told her followers that she preferred the way it looked without an apostrophe at all - and that she had decided to drop it.

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Top 10 expensive celebrity mistakes

Is this bad for business?

On the one hand, deliberately including a grammatical error in your business name could lead your customers to assume you have made an error, and could cause them to worry that you might be similarly slap-dash about the way you conduct your business.

Zissman's attitude may also ring alarm bells among those who saw the show, and remember that in the early days of the programme she gained a reputation for bluntly pursuing her own ends at all costs. Potential customers may worry about whether this is the sort of character who will have their best interests at heart.

On the other hand, there are plenty of instances where people have been deliberately cavalier with the apostrophe. The bigwigs behind the Hollywood blockbuster Two Weeks Notice decided that the grammatically-correct Two Weeks' Notice might confuse cinema-goers, so dropped the apostrophe.

Likewise, plenty of councils have been phasing out apostrophes on road signs. In 2009 Birmingham announced it wouldn't be including them on new signs. This means St Paul's Square is now signposted St Pauls Square - presumably celebrating a plethora of other lesser-known St Pauls.

And of course we cannot overlook the publicity Zissman has garnered for her site with this move - as if posing by the pool in a pink bikini last week didn't get her enough column inches. Perhaps dropping the apostrophe could be good for business after-all.

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