Submitted by mukundsharma on December 9, 2003

rock ‘n’ roll

What kind of an inverted apostrophe should be used before n? Strictly speaking, I think it should be tail pointing downwards. But for reasons of aesthetics is it okay to use the one with the tail upwards?

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*Any* apostrophe should always have the tail downwards. As T. Carer said, the tail-upwards symbol is an opening quotation mark -- it isn't an apostrophe at all.

Writing " 'n' " (e.g. "rock 'n' roll" or "fish 'n' chips") with quotes instead of apostrophes is a fairly common mistake, even for people with English as their first language. Usually this is the result of word processors turning ' characters into curly quotes automatically. (They make the same mistake, for example, with " 'twas ", which is short for "it was".)

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An apostrophe that notes ommission should always curl toward the left (tail downwards).

The similar-looking punctuation mark (curling to the right or tail upwards) would be an opening single quotation mark, which serves a different purpose.

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