I’m pretty sure I have this right; here's my sentence:

There were a few random music friends from decades’ past there to see her, and she couldn’t be any prouder.

Do I have the apostrophe right?

  • 1
    Did you write the sentence?
    – user140086
    Jan 2, 2016 at 5:02
  • It seems obvious from the question that he wrote it ans, no, there is no apostrophe required, as the OP is indicating plurality and not possessiveness. Jan 2, 2016 at 8:44
  • As a UK native speaker, the phrase "music friends" grates on my ear. If they play music, then you can use "musical friends". If they are fans of the same genre, I am unsure how to phrase it elegantly. Another question, perhaps? (hmmm, "there were a few random friends, united by their love of music, there...."? That still suonds clumsy) Jan 2, 2016 at 8:57

3 Answers 3


Do I have the apostrophe right?

No. There is no apostrophe.

There were a few random music friends from decades past there to see her, and she couldn't be any prouder.

Past here basically means "in the past."



It would be if "decades" were a person called Decades, and the few random friends were from his past:

... friends from Decades' past ...

However, "past" here is an adjective modifying the word "decades." So, no apostrophe.


As others have pointed out, an apostrophe can indicate a missing letter ("Able was I, e'er I saw Elba"), or possessiveness ("The apostrophe's proper usage"), but never plurality, although this is a very common mistake.

I would also like to point out that "There were" is past and "she couldn't be" is present.

Personally, I would match the tenses and write

There were a few random music friends from decades' past there to see her, and she couldn't have been any prouder

  • 1
    Except that it's "Able was I ere I saw Elba" ("ere" meaning before; the whole being written backwards). Jan 2, 2016 at 9:56
  • Aagrgh!! You're correct, of course (+1)dictionary.reference.com/browse/ere Quick! Cover my panic. Find me an example of an apostrophe indicating a missing letter when not in penultimate position ... Jan 2, 2016 at 11:12
  • 1
    You'd've been OK with this, wouldn't you? Although you can't say it mustn't be in penultimate position. (You also have "progressiveness" as a typo for "possessiveness", I think.) Jan 2, 2016 at 11:51
  • Well done, you ne'er do well ;-) Jan 2, 2016 at 13:38
  • 1
    Indeed, I had the present perfect there but stated it wrong. That will teach me for blogging after dark. And I agree that it's still awkward ...
    – Stu W
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.