Read all about it! Our third feature in English Today

In the latest issue of English Today I briefly address the history of the possessive apostrophe, the most notorious punctuation mark in the English language.

Here are some interesting facts from the article:

Did you know

  • that the apostrophe was first introduced to the English language in the sixteenth century
  • that misused apostrophes were mentioned in a usage guide dating back to 1770
  • that the five most frequent grammatical mistakes on Twitter are attributed to apostrophe omission?

Read all about it and more. Tell us what your thoughts are on the potential death of the apostrophe.

Note: You can read the full article on the English Today page of this website, or if you have access, download the original pdf from the website Cambridge Journals Online.

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One Response to Read all about it! Our third feature in English Today

  1. Michael Bulley says:

    The apostrophe:
    When can’t and won’t are written without an apostrophe, they look like the nouns cant and wont and it is hard not to think of those words, the former also being pronounced differently from can’t.

    If you do without the apostrophe, are you going to write “Mr Jones’s house” as “Mr Joness house”, which may make the reader hesitiate about the pronunciation, as it looks like “Jo-ness”? And, as sometimes the possessive of a surname ending in s is not written or pronounced with another s, will “Mr Richards house” belong to Mr Richard or to Mr Richards, as both surnames exist and are common. In that case, of course, the spoken version is ambiguous, but the ambiguity there can be resolved immediately, whereas that may not be possible in the written version, which might need to be more definitive.

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