The-Quality-of-Poetry-on-Scribeslice

Group: The Quality of Poetry on Scribeslice

Points of Grammar

The Use of the Apostrophe

The apostrophe rule is sometimes misunderstood. Its uses are:
To indicate that a letter or letters are missing in a word.

To indicate the possessive.

The possessive: When we say - the farmer’s horse- we are saying that the horse belongs to the farmer. The reason for this is that the apostrophe indicates a missing letter ‘his’.
Historically the form was - the farmer his horse - which later became contracted to - the farmer’s horse. If you ever read the book Treasure Island you will remember the old pirate had a sea chest on which was written ‘Billy Bones his chest’.

If there is more than one man we would say – ‘the men’s area - or whatever. The apostrophe comes before the S in this case because the word ’men’ is already plural. The same applies to all words that show this form such as – children – oxen.

If a word ends in S such as my name - Wells – then there is an option. You may equally correctly say Harry Wells’ dog or Harry Wells’s dog. Never mind that Spellcheck doesn’t agree but I think the second one is clumsy.

Even though the following words have a possessive meaning the apostrophe is not used:
Yours, hers, his, theirs, ours.

The word ‘it’ makes difficulty with a quirky ruling that turns it about the other way.
It’s means ‘it is’ and its is used for the possessive. This is the one that is most incorrectly used.


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


The apostrophe is also used for contractions such as - I've, I'll, you're. This is obvious but I will mention it. I'm sure you can work out what words or letters are missing.


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


That was a good little lesson Harry. I'm often stumped too.


Davide Castel

2nd June 2013


Harry, Writing with apostrophes shortens the form without reducing the intent. (Though it does change the "flavor" somewhat). I've got to thank you for making the basics clear, concise, and interesting.


Jim Miller

2nd June 2013


I get it wrong with 'its' all the time. An excellent discussion Harry.


Asma Ahsan

2nd June 2013


Typo on the title, Asma can you amend garmmar to Grammar.


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


Asma, don't let me catch you getting it's and its wrong again then:)


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


Yes, I noticed the typo on the title.


Davide Castel

3rd June 2013


Harry. I cant open the editor since you are the Group leader. Please go up to the top of the page and choose the EDIT option right under the title 'Points of garmmer'. The edit only opens the title box so you can change it and save changes.

Let me know if it works.

'It's' ok for you to check my 'its and it's' in here Harry. 'It's' for my own good. :)


Asma Ahsan

3rd June 2013


Thanks, Jim. Now and again somebody comes up with a neat description which I wish I'd thought of. I'm thinking of your phrase 'apostrophes shorten the form without reducing the intent'. A great line. I like the bit about flavor too. One 'its' is more informal than the other.


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


Thanks, Asma. It works.


Harry Wells

2nd June 2013


I can see that. :)

So, what's next on the agenda?


Asma Ahsan

3rd June 2013


From 'Grammar for Dentists'(spoof) but it contains a lesson for writers.

Less sugar but more spoonsful
Fewer dentists, less dentistry
More dentists, fewer extractions.


Harry Wells

28th June 2013


Hmm - could be an ad for an artificial sweetener.


Asma Ahsan

29th June 2013


Maybe -

The less obvious (in this case phrase) is often the best choice for maximum effect.


Jim Miller

28th June 2013


Hmm- could be, Asma. But it's a grammar lesson just the same.


Harry Wells

29th June 2013


I know Harry, and I thank you for it.

Jim, I can see you need FEWER lessons than me. :)


Asma Ahsan

29th June 2013


How are we doing here? Nothing new has been added for ages Harry.


Asma Ahsan

20th August 2013


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