Let’s Learn English Grammar, Lesson 4
Please be aware that I’m not a teacher, I’m learning about grammar using these posts and hope some of you will learn along with me as I seek out the British English grammar on the internet. Please be aware that American English grammar rules differ from English grammar taught in the United Kingdom, as do Australian, Canadian, and many other countries using English. Here we go then with British English grammar.
Last week, I posted the first lesson ‘Using apostrophes in possession’. This week I’m looking at ‘Using apostrophes in omission’.
The online Oxford Dictionaries for apostrophes in omission states:
“An apostrophe can be used to show that letters or numbers have been omitted. Here are some examples of apostrophes that indicate missing letters:
I’m – short for I am
he’ll – short for he will
she’d – short for she had or she would
pick ’n’ mix – short for pick and mix
it’s hot – short for it is hot
didn’t – short for did not
“It also shows that numbers have been omitted, especially in dates, e.g. the Berlin Wall came down in the autumn of ’89 (short for 1989).”
“It’s or Its
“These two words can cause a lot of confusion: many people are uncertain about whether or not to use an apostrophe. These are the rules to remember:
its (without an apostrophe) means ‘belonging to it’:
The dog wagged its tail.
Each case is judged on its own merits.
it’s (with an apostrophe) means ‘it is’ or ‘it has’:
It’s been a long day.
It’s cold outside.
It’s a comfortable car and it’s got some great gadgets.”
“Apostrophes and Plural Forms
“The general rule is that you should not use an apostrophe to form the plurals of nouns, abbreviations, or dates made up of numbers: just add -s (or -es, if the noun in question forms its plural with -es). For example:
|euro||euros||(e.g. The cost of the trip is 570 euros.)|
|pizza||pizzas||(e.g. Traditional Italian pizzas are thin and crisp.)|
|apple||apples||(e.g. She buys big bags of organic apples and carrots.)|
|MP||MPs||(e.g. Local MPs are divided on this issue.)|
|1990||1990s||(e.g. The situation was different in the 1990s.)|
It’s very important to remember this grammatical rule.
“There are one or two cases in which it is acceptable to use an apostrophe to form a plural, purely for the sake of clarity:
You can use an apostrophe to show the plurals of single letters:
I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.
Find all the p’s in appear.
You can use an apostrophe to show the plurals of single numbers:
Find all the number 7’s.
“These are the only cases in which it is generally considered acceptable to use an apostrophe to form plurals: remember that an apostrophe should never be used to form the plural of ordinary nouns, names, abbreviations, or numerical dates.
“You can read more rules and guidelines about apostrophes on the Oxford Dictionaries blog. Here you will find further examples of correct and incorrect use of apostrophes.”
The website below offers some further guidance on using apostrophes: When in doubt, they suggest using the (of the) sentence construction. Instead of saying ‘my uncle’s return was delayed’. We could say ‘the return of my uncle was delayed’.
I hope you’ve found this useful.
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