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Thread: apostrophe (')

  1. #1
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    Default apostrophe (')

    I'm afraid but I have to say some native speakers confuse the contraction [it's] with the possessive pronoun [its]. A graduate from Cambridge University once insisted that you need an apostrophe after [t], and the apostrophe + s means possessive. Another thirty-year-old man from Britain said that you should put an apostrophe between [t] and [s].

    Yesterday an ALT, which means assitant language teacher, said to me,"it's awkward to put an apostrophe after [s], and no [s] after the apostrophe when I asked if it's OK to write [girls school] and if you should write [girls' school].

    Any languages are changing always. So this might be one of the case. Do you think there are not a few native speakers who think possessive forms should have an apostrophe + [s]?
    Or do you already use the word [it's] as the possessive pronoun?

    I hope you will help me.
    Thank you very much in advance.

  2. #2
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    Red face Re: apostrophe (')

    Hi Sstupid,
    You're quite correct to say that many native English speakers cannot use the apostrophe correctly with 'it'.
    There are 2 uses of the apostrophe - to indicate possession and for contraction.
    Contraction is fairly straightforward, where the apostrophe indicates the missing letter(s), but possession does cause a few problems. 'It's' is always a contraction.
    I think the problem with 'its' for possession is caused by the confusion between speaking and writing - when speaking, 'it is' is nearly always pronounced 'it's'. It would be much clearer if the two words were spoken individually. Take the following - 'The dog has a kennel. That's its home'. If there was an apostrophe, it would read 'That's it is home' in its (possession again) full form.
    As for apostrophe and 's', I always taught that you only used this when the additional 's' was pronounced. For example, 'girls' school' would sound very strange as 'girlses school'. However, I would use apostrophe and 's' with 'Ross's house' because you pronounce the additional 's'.
    But - and there's always a but - it is often a matter of individual preference. As long as your intention is clear, just find a method that makes sense to you and is easy to use and you should be fine.
    Hope this is of some help.
    Dippit

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    Default Re: apostrophe (')

    Thank you very much, Dippit.
    You helped me a lot.

    I would like to say again that any languages are changing little by little. Now you say ďThatís itís homeĒ is wrong to write even if some people write, but in about 100 years most of the people might write [itís home] instead of [its home] and nobody disagree with its use, I think..
    Some day in the future, the time may come when it is common to use [itís] as the possessive form of [it]. Donít you think so?

    You said itís a matter of individual preference if you use the apostrophe or not. Are you saying you prefer [girls school] rather than [girlsí school]? Am I right?

    In Japanese language, there is a word whose use has slightly changed these four or five decades. Itís [zenzen] which has almost the same meaning of [at all]. The word used to be used only in negative sentences and it was wrong to use it in affirmative ones, but today we use in affirmative ones!!!

    Does anyone use [at all] in affirmative sentences when you speak English?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: apostrophe (')

    The correct form is Girls' school. I'm afraid the misuse of the apostrophe is very widespread in English.
    If you look at the Google results, you'll see that most, like you, would use the apostrophe.
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...22&btnG=Search
    What Dippit was referring to is the -'s with words ending -s, where some just put the apostophe and others put the apostrophe and a second s, which is an area where there is some confusion and different rules go around.

    I haven't come across 'at all' as a positive emphatic, but I probably will.

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    Red face Re: apostrophe (')

    Thanks tdol,
    The use of an apostrophe with words ending in 's' was what I was referring to.
    Sorry for not being completely clear.
    Dippit

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    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: apostrophe (')

    Well, strictly speaking, no native English speaker has the slightest problem with the apostrophe for the very good reason that it is purely a written convention. Its misuse is nothing more than a spelling mistake.
    The apostrophe does not exist in spoken English; its and it's are pronounced identically and are thus homophones.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Talking Re: apostrophe (')

    Quote Originally Posted by JJM Ballantyne
    Well, strictly speaking
    Did you write that?

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    Default Re: apostrophe (')

    Dippit, I am very sorry for misunderstanding your explanation. You are completely clear. I was just so stupid that I couldn’t understand what you were referring to. After all I am still a newbie who learns English as a second language.
    Oh, how often I misunderstand what other people mean.
    I used to be too afraid to write something on Bulletin Board in English because I really didn’t know how to write politely, and neither do I now!!! So please for give me.

    Thank you very much for your help, tdol. You made me realize that I had misunderstood Dippit’s explanation.
    Today Girls school also seems to be acceptable, doesn’t it?
    And nobody can stop it.
    Thanks for your interesting information.

    Yes, JJM Ballantyne, you are quite right.
    “Its misuse is nothing more than a spelling mistake. The apostrophe does not exist in spoken English.”
    Last edited by Sstupid; 26-Jan-2006 at 07:22.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: apostrophe (')

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstupid
    Today Girls school also seems to be acceptable, doesnít it?
    And nobody can stop it.
    Nobody can stop a language from changing if the speakers want it to.

  10. #10
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    Question Re: apostrophe (')

    Hi all,
    Can I post a final reply to this? I rarely get to use the computer/internet.

    Language is a changing thing and should be celebrated for this alone. This is, for me, one of the things that makes English so facinating.

    However, although JJ Ballantyne (a maker of malt in my old place of home) correctly says that 'its' and 'it's' are homophones, she/he must remember that language is a spoken form first and foremost. Try dealing with UK - based teenagers who see no need to distinguish between the two forms in the written word!
    Because the two words are homophones, it is important to understand the difference between them. The reason why they are homophones is that when we speak we tend not to enunciate 'it is' clearly - not that there's anything wrong with this, but we must understand when speakers of other languages, who are tested on written as well as spoken skills, fail to differentiate between the two.
    In many other languages (if not most) it is possible to ascertain who is the possessor, but in English we tend to use the possessive 's' to indicate this - to follow the sentence structure of other languages (Roamance-based) would sound awkward. The possessive 's' is there for a purpose.

    Thanks for this.

    Hope 2006 brings all you desire!

    Dippit

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