Apostrophes - The Last Secrets Revealed (and some more)
December 8, 2015 9:39am CST
Another use of the apostrophe is to show that something belongs to someone. If you don't use an apostrophe in such a case, you don't make this clear. If you use an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong, you puzzle your readers. ‘My brothers house . . . ‘ - What’s that? This doesn’t mean anything. ‘My brother’s house . . . ‘ - Ah, you’ve got one brother who‘s (not whose!!!) got a house. ‘My brothers’ house . . . ’ - Interesting, two or more of your brothers share one house. Believe it or not: PLURAL FORMS HAVE NO APOSTROPHE ! Yes, indeed, you can’t eat pizza’s or write about swimming pool’s and hotel room’s. It’s just blatant nonsense. You can stand on your head and wriggle your toes to draw attention to your original creations. But you won’t change the rules of the English grammar, I’m afraid. Now that we’re at it, may I digress a bit and tell you two other secrets? If you’re not an invalid and can move about without help, then you can’t write ’I was sat’ or ‘I was stood’. If you do, you must be able to answer the question, “By whom?” Who sat you and who stood you? Nobody did? Well, then it’s ’I was sitting’ and ’I was standing’. I’ve heard that these forms are used in some parts of the UK. That's interesting for a linguist, but we don't use dialect forms in written texts, do we? And now we’ve come to the word which teases the most creativity out of native speakers, namely ‘definitely’. It’s DEFINITELY always and only DEFINITELY and never: definately, definatly, difinitly, difiantly. (My spell check is having a nervous breakdown!) There’s much more to say on the topic of correct writing, but let’s leave it at that. If every member took the above explanations on board (and the ones of the two posts I've already written), they would make fewer (not less!!!) mistakes. 'less' can ONLY be used for singular nouns. If you've got a plural, it's 'fewer'. ALWAYS! NO EXCEPTIONS! For some inexplicable reasons many native English speakers hate the word 'fewer'. If they didn't, they'd make fewer mistakes. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? We could have a party, open champers and dance on the tables!
19 people like this
• Cambridge, England
8 Dec 15
Bravo! Let's open the champers and dance on the tables, anyway, because it's my BIRTHDAY!!! (and I can have four of the seven candles on my binary birthday cake alight (Nos 1, 2, 4 and 7, to be precise). I love the montage of Earl's Court signs! It just shows how confusing life can be in Britain, especially when you see ever so carefully lettered signs announcing "Sprout's £1 per stalk" or "Pick you're own Strawberries!". Now what shall we do with the house that belongs to the Jones family? Do we call it the Jones' or the Jones's (both are pronounced exactly the same - "joan-ziz", by the way)?
7 people like this
• Walnut Creek, California
10 Dec 15
I use "less" when a continuous substance is involved. I used a bit less sugar in my coffee this morning. But number of tea spoons is discrete, not continuous. So I used fewer tea spoons of sugar in my coffee this morning.
10 Dec 15
@TheHorse In Germany we always mention countable and uncountable nouns when explaining grammar. Let them make a lost of uncountable words. There aren't so many. The majority is countable. coal, wood, iron ore, gold etc. butter, oil, sugar, salt, water etc. freedom, peace, knowlege, wisdom etc. If they aren't daft, they should see what these words have in common. Uncountable nouns have no plural! An added -s doesn't *always* make a plural! Of course, in most cases it's correct. What about mouse, louse, sheep, deer, ox etc.?
• Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
10 Dec 15
To be honest I find it hard to grasp new things or better ways of doing things, my biggest problem is commas because I say it in my head and when it pauses I put a comma .. Example Jimmy went to the shop, while there he lost a shoe, walking him he found it again. That might be right.. Is it?
• Chandigarh, India
8 Dec 15
very informative, I am not native english speaker, so for me this post is really helpful. I hope you would continue to write such informative posts and continue to enlighten me. I read your last post to which was on funny surnames.
• Manchester, England
8 Dec 15
The idea of using an apostrophe for a plural must be the most prolific punctuation error by far. I encountered this constantly while I was working and found it hard to credit that so many people had no clue whatsoever how to use apostrophes.
• United Kingdom
12 Dec 15
English grammar is something I have always struggled with I think it is a mixture of being dyslexic and having welsh as my first language which contradicts English in every way possible. I have been trying really hard over the last few years to improve though, I think I have a bit. x