I think part of the problem is that so many others are so sure they are right about what's correct that when those very people contradict each other, I go into a spin.
Here's an example: in academic writing (which I teach), the rules (okay don't sigh now) say that you should only use a semi-colon to separate items in a list or between two independent clauses of equal weight when you don't want to use a conjunction such as 'and, but etc'. Now things seem to be different in narrative and creative writing. And there's the rub. I've read articles that say you can use a semi-colon instead of a comma when a comma is not enough of a break - like a half way pause between a full stop and a comma (for instance, maybe I could even have put one before 'like' in the line above). That's wonderful - liberating even. I got quite excited when I thought I could sprinkle my sentences with semi-colons when I wanted something of a more pregnant pause than a dear little comma would give me. But....it doesn't always work. No, it doesn't, and I've seen semi-colon use go terribly wrong. I'm not even sure if I do it right myself anymore as I've had editors question my dramatic pauses a few times. So I'm going back to the rules as they apply to academic writing. I may be a wimp but at least they are clear.
Now the next problem comes with our feisty little apostrophe. Goodness, do people get upset about this beastie? I've had my wrist smacked no end of times for using apostrophes with abbreviated words or 'anglicisms' that have now been accepted as words in their own right (pro's and con's are just an example, being originally Latin). Added to that, when I was at school, I was taught that decades such as the 1960s had an apostrophe before the 's'. I've left it out here as it seems this isn't done now unless it's a possessive form. In fact there were many 'old-fashioned' forms I had to unlearn when I left South Africa and started teaching in Europe. SA is always about fifty years behind - it's quite refreshing really, but it's given me a few headaches along with having to swallow a lot of humble pie.
But talking about possessives, there is one thing I'm quite certain of and that's the difference between its and it's - at least I thought I was. The first is (contrary to expectations) the possessive form of the pronoun it and the second is an abbreviation for 'it is / it has'. Yes? I am right, aren't I? Please tell me that's true! The problem is that I see an apostrophe used so often for the possessive form of it these days I'm doubting myself all over again - hence the title of this piece. I wouldn't mind except that people get so belligerent about these things and when two opposing sides believe they are right, where does that leave a doubting Dora like me?
So that's my problem. Punctuation is becoming an apostrophic nightmare. I know language evolves and all that. And I'm all for it, believe me! But could it just hold on until I've caught up?
Update: I've been reading this forum that shows I was not mad or even wrong by using apostrophes with plural dates at one time. Grammarian, Michael Swann (well known to me in the EFL world) and Lynn Truss both confirm its former popularity. In fact this forum Q and A raises some other interesting points regarding the apostrophe too: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/55970/plurals-of-acronyms-letters-numbers-use-an-apostrophe-or-not
Happy reading for nerds!