Apostrophes - The Last Secrets Revealed (and some more)

apostrophe
@MALUSE (40125)
Germany
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
18 responses
@owlwings (39227)
• 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
@mysdianait (64058)
• Italy
8 Dec 15
Happy birthday Mr Owl! So the party will be here?
3 people like this
@owlwings (39227)
• Cambridge, England
8 Dec 15
@mysdianait As all good parties are, of course (though I shall be off to the pub in a couple of hours for a birthday meal).
5 people like this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
8 Dec 15
Congratulations. Many happy returns of the day!
3 people like this
@dawnald (84147)
• Shingle Springs, California
8 Dec 15
I've never heard "I was sat" or "I was stood". Must not be that common. One that drives me nuts is that lately people keep using loose when they mean lose, and, less commonly, mute for moot. Ugh.
3 people like this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
8 Dec 15
'I was sat / stood' may be a British blunder. I'm German. I wouldn't know. I've seen it very often.
2 people like this
@dawnald (84147)
• Shingle Springs, California
8 Dec 15
@MALUSE Ah, I was wondering if you were an ex-pat Brit or what.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
8 Dec 15
@dawnald That's a compliment, isn't it? No, nothing British in me.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, 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.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
10 Dec 15
That's the correct use. You can also say: Fewer for countable things, less for uncountable ones. Spoons are countable, sugar is not.
2 people like this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
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.?
@Gr8bit (177)
• 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?
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
10 Dec 15
This is bad stylistically. The shop and the shoe have nothing to do with each other. For each action you should write an extra sentence and end it with a full stop.
@Gr8bit (177)
• Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
10 Dec 15
@MALUSE Is there a program you know of that can help me?
1 person likes this
@rocky1980 (548)
• 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.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
8 Dec 15
I've already written two posts on English grammar.
3 people like this
• Chandigarh, India
8 Dec 15
@MALUSE thanks for informing me. I'll check. I don't know how I have missed them.
1 person likes this
@Gr8bit (177)
• Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
10 Dec 15
My grammar is ridiculously bad :-(
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
10 Dec 15
Why don't you improve it?
@Asylum (48281)
• 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.
1 person likes this
@paigea (22199)
• Canada
8 Dec 15
Believe me, I try to pound this into their mind from grade two!
1 person likes this
@Inlemay (16541)
• South Africa
9 Dec 15
Spot on Ms Maluse - I would have loved you to be my English teacher - your explanation is on the mark.
1 person likes this
@RonElFran (892)
• Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
9 Dec 15
People seem to be getting more lax in their use of the apostrophe in this online age.
1 person likes this
@BelleStarr (38213)
• United States
8 Dec 15
It seems that grammar and punctuation are not being stressed at all in schools. I use the word fewer frequently.
1 person likes this
@cindiowens (3841)
• North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
8 Dec 15
Great lesson!
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (157404)
• Switzerland
8 Dec 15
I like your example and the explanation"you must be able to answer the question, “By whom?” . Subject and object are not the same thing.
1 person likes this
@mysdianait (64058)
• Italy
8 Dec 15
Interesting! Now I am going to check out the other two posts that you mention too.
1 person likes this
@dpk262006 (56170)
• Delhi, India
9 Dec 15
Interesting lessons about English grammar. English is not the native language for many users here (including me) so tips given by you would help such users. However, they should come and carefully read this discussion of yours.
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
9 Dec 15
Sadly, I can't make people read my three lessons. It should be obligatory for every member who uses apostrophes incorrectly.
2 people like this
@dpk262006 (56170)
• Delhi, India
9 Dec 15
@MALUSE - Yes, those who want to learn, must read your posts. (On my part I would suggest it to some of friends here on mylot).
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
9 Dec 15
@dpk262006 Thank you! That's a good idea. I can't suggest it myself, of course. Have you read the two other posts on the same topic?
2 people like this
@simone10 (21657)
• Louisville, Kentucky
9 Dec 15
When I use an apostrophe, all of my grammar education comes into play and I can hear it in my ear as if someone was sitting right beside me.
@MALUSE (40125)
• Germany
9 Dec 15
That's what I hope happens to all my former pupils. In fact, I once met a man in his 40s who confessed to thinking of my lessons when writing an apostrophe.
1 person likes this
@simone10 (21657)
• Louisville, Kentucky
13 Dec 15
@MALUSE I know that had to have made you so proud to know that he still remembered what you taught.
@Dalane (701)
• United States
19 Dec 15
Interesting how just one little apostrophe says so much.
@shellyjaneo (1091)
• 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
@antonbunot (9514)
• Calgary, Alberta
12 Dec 15
Apostrophes are as important as punctuation marks in our everyday writings.