I frequently see co-workers omitting the subject of a sentence and replacing it with an apostrophe. Is there some informal rule for this?

I could only find anecdotal examples. Here are a few:

1) 'Sorry for the added complications.

2) 'Hopefully back in time for lunch.

3) 'Sorry I can't be of more help.

4) 'Sorry I wasn't able to get anywhere with that.

I haven't been able to find anything explaining why some people do this. It seems to me that they are omitting the subject when it is obvious that the subject is themselves. I.e. changing "I am sorry ..." to "'Sorry ..."

Does anyone have any insight on this usage?


  • 1
    Please add linked examples from checkable sources rather than anecdotal ones. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 26 '18 at 22:13
  • 3
    Are your coworkers nonnative speakers? Or maybe your coworkers use VB comments to communicate? Those are the only two reasons I can think of to explain this usage. As a native speaker I have never seen anything like this. – Laurel Feb 26 '18 at 23:00
  • @EdwinAshworth I've only seen this usage first-hand and couldn't find sources of it used elsewhere, which is why I asked about it here. – Blearn Feb 27 '18 at 15:16
  • @Laurel These coworkers are native English speakers. The only common data point is they are in the baby boomer generation. It seems like some kind of shorthand to me but I don't know if it was taught or if it is organic. – Blearn Feb 27 '18 at 15:19
  • One function of the apostrophe is to indicate the omission of one or several letters in a word or fused string. fo'c's'le ... fo'c'sle ... don't ... off down t'mill.... Using one to indicate a deleted subject and verbs is, I'd say, nonstandard. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 27 '18 at 17:32

Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.