Skip to content

Apostrophes Explained

Since “grammar” and “correct uses of apostrophes” are two of the most searched for terms on this site, I thought I would draw your attention to this rather fabulous resource courtesy of The University of Melbourne.

Consistent apostrophe misuse is one of the most common errors I see in spec scripts and it’s a real shame, since it’s easy to put right if you know how. The reason this resource is so cool is because it’s concise and to the point – plus it’s a pdf so you can download it and go back to it later. It also has some handy links too, including one to the brilliant BBC Skillswise website, where you can get all manner of games and worksheets to help you improve with things like grammar. Click here to go direct to Skillswise.

So save it to your desktop now and banish this troublesome and pesky error from your scripts forever: click here for the apostrophes pdf. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Here’s another good link about apostrophes from the marvellous Rich… Thanks Rich!

Share this:

14 thoughts on “Apostrophes Explained”

  1. Welcome peeps – and thanks for the link Rich, have put it up on the blog for others too.

    Grammar is now back on the curriculum after a twenty year absence thanks to Thatcher (who believed we would somehow absorb good grammar via osmosis!)…However the people now teaching it never learned it themselves unfortunately! As a result lots of people believe they’re doing it the “right” way when they’re not. Hopefully in another twenty years or so it will iron itself out ; )

  2. I don’t generally have a problem, not that I’m immune to the occasional typo. That’s a pretty good summation of the situation.

    I’m interested that they say it is suggested that even the possessive apostrophe is actually a contraction. I thought that was a definite fact, from Old English where ‘es’ was added to make the possessive, and eventually the ‘e’ got left out.

    I disagree with their final point about “clarification” though I do agree it complicates things: They use the examples 1950s, PhDs and As (as opposed to 1950’s, PhD’s and A’s).

    The claim that the non-apostrophe version is perfectly clear is clearly silly. Certainly 1950s is obvious, as is PhDs, because neither of them creates an existing word. As, the other hand, could easily cause confusion.

    (Did you see what I did there?)


  3. And, (reading on through your comment), that is a gross generalisation “However the people now teaching it never learned it themselves unfortunately!”

    My wife’s grammar is better than mine, as she is also a professional writer.

    Please don’t generalise. It’s very naughty.


  4. Could have fooled me… I’m was a teacher too and lost count of the number of times I heard that wail about grammar in the staff room.

    Certainly the majority of students I’ve taught have been completely unaware what a NOUN is, even – let alone the hard stuff.

    But you’re right, I shouldn’t generalise. I’m sure your wife’s grammar is lovely Steve ; )

  5. Blame the teachers!

    (I wish to make it absolutely clear that the above exclamation was a joke.)

    (Otherwise my wife will club me to death with her excellent grammar.)

  6. End of the day, grammar is about “accepted” use more than anything. Philosophically grammar is “posteriori” knowledge in that it is knowledge that comes FROM humans, thus we add to it, take away etc… (as opposed to “priori” knowledge, stuff that will happen regardless of us noticing it or not – the sun rising, tides coming in, time passing, etc).

    This is why we don’t speak like Shakespeare’s lot. In the same way then, what was correct twenty years ago in grammar then is not necessarily “correct” now. A friend tells me split infinitives are acceptable now.

  7. A split infinitive?

    Do I even want to know?

    Also you have “then” twice in that sentence, go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect £200.

    Also – I never learned grammar at school Steve, unless you count half a term looking at some comprehension and picking out some “doing words” when I was about 15, which I thought was too late.

  8. Interesting post Lucy.

    My girlfiend (who is also a write) always gives me grief when it comes to this very subject.

    Now I can take this pdf home and have a right good barny!

    If I’m single by the time saturday comes, or if I am in the intensive care unit then I’ll know who to blame eh? 🙂


  9. Let’s not get picky CW, we’re all flawed and I forgive you ; )

    Though if we were going to get picky, we could all point and laugh at Anya because the sentence she’s actually talking about re: my “then” twicing is the one BEFORE the one she actually says.

    But we’re not going to get picky.

    What amuses me about this is how many comments I have on what essentially was just a “here’s a good link” post – when I wrote a fabulous in-depth one about reversals today which none of you ingrates have commented on.

    I’ll pluck out all YOUR eyes damn you!!!

    ; )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *