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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Apostrophe and the Eleven Plus

Can a discussion about an apostrophe (“) ever end in complete agreement? We know that many years ago the old termination of a word used the letters es. Later on this was changed to become ‘s.

The word itself means `turning away’ – from the Greek.

The apostrophe was once used in plurals. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

An apostrophe stands for an omission as in can’t for can not.

We add an apostrophe for the Possessive – and we add an s when we can

We do not add an s if it makes a disagreeable sound. The mother’s books gives us the books of the mother. The mothers’s books – which would be the book of many mothers but the extra s sounds strange. The men’s hats is sound – we would not say the mens’s hats!

We use the Possessive Case for people. We very seldom use the Possessive Case for lifeless or in-animate objects.

It is to be hoped that your nine year old will be able to remember all these nuances of usage. We must all be grateful for the on-line references of WikipediA. I read about the `grocers apostrophe’ – even to criticism of Tesco! What a fascinating subject!

Any form of simplification of these complex rules, for the edification and illumination of our Eleven Plus candidates, would be gratefully appreciated! You see we can’t just give a candidate a rule – we need to be able to justify the rule. After all the most dreaded eleven plus words any one can hear are: “But my teacher says.”

Once `teacher’ has spoken we all need to back off!

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