Dont you hate it when people misuse apostrophe’s?

So, a few years ago, Waterstone’s decided to get rid of its possessive apostrophe in order to become Waterstones. According to an article in The Telegraph, the decision provoked ‘outrage’. Outrage along the lines of this:

and, my personal favourite, this:

Waterstone’s (or rather, Waterstones) have justified the decision by saying the apostrophe-free spelling is more ‘versatile’ and suited to modern URLs. Here’s The Telegraph on the subject, and you can find a smart article from The Guardian here.

The Kill The Apostrophe campaign puts forward a rather convincing argument here. The Apostrophe Protection Society make a similarly persuasive case here. A couple of items in The Telegraph: one on a council abolishing apostrophes on its signs; the other by Christopher Howse arguing that we perhaps take it a little too seriously.

No language debate would be complete without a contribution from our resident deity Mr Crystal, debating apostrophes with none other than Paxo on Newsnight…

And here’s Crystal again on the Waterstones/Waterstone’s furore. And let’s not forget you can’t go wrong with a bit of Lynne Truss, who explores the history and current use of the apostrophe in the first episode of her Cutting a Dash series, which you can listen to below:

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find Dr Julia Gillen in an article taken (surprisingly enough) from The Sun, as well as a perceptive and well-informed article from eMagazine.

When you’ve had a look at all of the texts to which I’ve linked, I’d like you to to answer the following question in the comments sections of this post: Should we abolish the apostrophe?

Guidance:

  • You should aim to write 200-300 words, and support your point of view with careful argument.
  • You should make reference to the arguments presented in the clips/texts linked to in this post.
  • Oh, and if you’re still struggling with apostrophe usage yourself, you could do a lot worse than this site to brush up. After all, Crystal may not judge you – but I certainly will.

Mr Shovlin

Dr Julia Gillen on Apostrophes (from The Sun).pdf

eMag – Long Live the Apostrophe.pdf

43 comments

  1. Adam

    The apostrophe may be the most misunderstood punctuation mark in English. There are even websites dedicated to cataloging its misuse. Most punctuation marks fall between words to separate ideas or grammatical clauses, but the apostrophe is used within words and to combine multiple words which befuddles even native speakers.

    This small mark has two primary uses: to signify either possession or omitted letters. Rather than say “the friend of Sam,” one can say “Sam’s friend” by adding a ‘s to the possessor (in this case, Sam). As for the second use, some common English words can be combined into a contraction, such as isn’t, don’t, and you’re. We often elide sounds and letters when speaking for the sake of convenience, and the apostrophe helps written language reflect its spoken equivalent. The word apostrophe comes from the Greek word apóstrophos which refers to a mark used in Greek to signify an omitted letter. It literally means a “mark of turning away.”

    The apostrophe causes so much strife in part because it’s the culprit in two of the most commonly confused pairs in English: you’re/your and it’s/its. Possessive pronouns (like your and its) never take apostrophes, but their soundalike friends are contractions that require apostrophes.

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  2. Ben Bucknall

    One of the main arguments for the preservation of the apostrophe is that it adds value to written communication. Despite this, they only believe that the apostrophe should only be ‘protected’ when used in its ‘traditional’ form. A group of people who call themselves the ‘Apostrophe Protection Society’ view the incorrect usage of the apostrophe as a form of grammar ‘abuse’ and believe it to be a sign of linguistic laziness. The removal of the apostrophe from the title of the bookstore ‘Waterstones’ provoked outrage amongst certain members of the general public claiming that it was an example of a ‘modernized’ attitude towards grammar; people ‘can’t be arsed’ to worry about it. Waterstones counteracted this argument by claiming that the deletion of the apostrophe for their n name made it more versatile and compatible with modern URLs. An article written on the apostrophe by Julie Blake, suggests that the correct usage of the apostrophe is an ‘entry to higher status’ in many aspects of life. While this is probably true, there have been many arguments to counteract this one. A campaign group called ‘Kill the Apostrophe’ inferred that apostrophes are time consuming and useless as it is rare that people actually get their function right. There are very few cases where this punctuation mark adds ‘semantic value’. As a result of this, it can be argued that worrying about the correct function of the apostrophe can actually ‘impede communication and understanding’. Put simply, there are very few people who actually care whether the apostrophe is used right or whether it is even used at all.

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  3. Chloe Turner

    David Crystal argues that the apostrophe should be kept, however he talks about how a lot of people feel that this punctuation mark clutters things up. The main issue to do with the apostrophe is that as it was the last piece of punctuation to be standardized in the 16th century, and the correct usage was not sorted out until the 19th century, people as a result are unsure of the correct use and how to use it. Crystal argues that there are uncertain cases but the apostrophe will remain as it is too important and is a tradition piece of punctuation. For example, if you are trying to say two letter ‘I’ it would be I’s, so if the apostrophe was taken out the word would read ‘is’ which would cause confusion highlighting its importance to stay. The Apostrophe protection society also argues these similar points and tries to preserve the correct use of the punctuation mark.
    Alternatively, in an article looking at ‘why the apostrophe should be killed’ highlights how the apostrophe just has too many semantic differences. Tones of money each year is being spent on people being proof readers for the incorrect which a lot of people argue is completely unnecessary. The article also argues that it is time consuming with current technology such as texting as it isn’t an automatic spell checking function so therefore takes time to put it in place. Furthermore, the fact that people find it hard to understand the true meanings and understanding it is being used incorrectly anyway, so surely there is no point?

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  4. Sophie Riley

    The apostrophe is probably the most commonly misused piece of punctuation and there are arguments on both sides of wether it should be abolished or it should be saved. The apostrophe has two purposes – to show a missing letter or to mark possession bus also used for plurals and third person singulars in verbs. David Crystal outlines that the apostrophe was one of the last punctuation features to enter the English orthography, he also explains that people have always found it difficult to apply the rules of the apostrophe consistently. So surely it would be easier to abolish the apostrophe all together as even after many centuries people still can’t seem to get it right. Kill The Apostrophe make a convincing argument by saying that apostrophes are pretty much redundant as they do not make a semantic difference most of the time. Also, Kill The Apostrophe outline that apostrophes are a tool of snobbery and allow people to look down their noses at people who don’t use the rules correctly therefore class them as illiterate. Waterstones main argument for losing their apostrophe was because it made it easier in modern URLs and more versatile, in my opinion this is justified. In modern times we are frequently seeing an increase in online shopping rather than actually going out to buy something therefore by making it easier and quicker to access their website by removing the apostrophe they are trying to increase their online sales. Technology is advancing and apostrophes are rarely used in text messaging and other forms of online communication as they are time-consuming. Some people may call this laziness but | do not think it is, English language/orthography is constantly changing with the times and people adapt. Each generation will make changes and people need to understand that this is and will always be happening. Killing the apostrophe may just be another one of those changes. I think it should be abolished but it should be a slow process not just get rid of it all together quick. By removing it, it creates ease and is keeping up to date with modern times.

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  5. Adele Wheway

    The apostrophe is time consuming, wasteful and a tool of snobbery within the English language. Proposed by the Kill the apostrophe campaign, the apostrophe ‘impedes communication and understanding’ as well as acting as a ‘distraction for otherwise reasonable and intelligent people.’ The deletion in bookshop company’s apostrophe in ‘Waterstones’ caused an outrage amongst many members of the public who called the change an ‘outrage’ and put it down to laziness from members of the can’t be arsed generation.’ I think that the deletion of the apostrophe is not a bad change but one, as Waterstones word it that is ‘more versatile and suited to modern URLs.’
    Many people are unsure on where and how the apostrophe is it be used, therefore making it one of the most confusing pieces of punctuation used in our language. The Telegraph newspaper reflects my feelings towards the apostrophe when it says,’ There is no chance of abolishing the apostrophe, but let’s stop it spoiling our lives.’ Famous linguist, David Crystal, described in an interview with Jeremy Paxman that the apostrophe ‘clutters up things’ and that the ‘rules are not black and white.’ He uses the example of ‘Dot your I’s and cross your t’s.’ Where should the apostrophes go in this sentence as there is no missing letters or possession. This reinforces my point that the apostrophe is confusing, time consuming and irrelevant.

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  6. Tabatha

    Since the apostrophe emerged there has always been question over the need of its existence. Many may argue that although it is not within our aural communication, we rely heavily on it at times within our written communication and this may be true. However, the continuous confusion and arbitrariness of its case cannot be ignored. David Crystal debated in an interview with Jeremy Paxman how societies who, are once put in a certain set of rules, feel that they must adhere to these conventions to be seen as educated. People would perhaps prefer to be in the midst of confusion with something as weak as the apostrophe and still find it to provide a better structure to their language that they need.
    It was the last punctuation mark to be standardised, although only finally fixed into a somewhat “proper” form in the mid-19th century. A later developer than the rest grammatical marks that we use in our language, it naturally holds less stability to our language. Perhaps if we did attempt to abolish the apostrophe in words we found caused confusion, we would be able to find a better point of consistency. An example of where this has been demonstrated was published in The Telegraph when Birmingham City Council banished apostrophes in all of their signs. I believe it is wasteful to regard such a miniscule difference as having such a high importance. We should consider an alternative to the apostrophe that could and would provide a better functional difference and save both a considerable amount of time and resource. Overall, I think that, although there is too much tradition to be able to banish the apostrophe all together, we should try and eliminate it out of our vocabulary when possible.

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  7. Emma Mitchell

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?
    When Waterstones dropped their apostrophe, the world was absorbed into a global debate. Even though Waterstones justified their decision as ‘practical’ due to it suiting to modern URLs (an opinion backed by Daunt), the decision still led to outrage as people blamed it on the ‘laziness’ or the ‘dud generation’. The Guardian and the ‘Kill the Apostrophe Campaign’ however took a different approach to the situation. They supported the view that ‘the world has not come to an end’ and apostrophes are just redundant (waste time and resources); we don’t need them because they are just simply wrong – backed by Paxman. The drop makes relatively no change to our language semantically and has therefore just turned into a war to divide classes – ‘a tool of snobbery’. Birmingham city council has also taken a stance against the apostrophe as they have decided to produce signs without apostrophes. John Richards labelled it as the first step towards linguistic anarchy while Lynne Truss was rumored to be ‘heartbroken’. Despite the opinion of these linguists, it is clear that abolishing the apostrophe wouldn’t make a lot of difference to our language; language evolves by actions of individual users and if the majority of us see it as pointless, then there is no reason to keep it.

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  8. Simran Shergill

    I don’t believe that the apostrophe should be abolished because it makes speech and writing quicker and easier. We shorten phrases such as ‘do not’ into ‘don’t’ because it is convenient. There are many websites dedicated to informing you on all the reasons why apostrophes are not needed, however I think that the only reason why these people feel so strongly about it is because they do not know how to use them correctly. This view is also shared by David Marsh, who created the International Apostrophe Day, as he believes that apostrophes are important to grammar and should be kept.
    The Apostrophe Protection Society, according to their website, do not understand why people misuse apostrophes because they think the rules of use are rather simple. They say that the main rules are: they are used to denote a missing letter or letters and possession; they are not used to denote plurals. Therefore, as long as people learn these rules, there should be no issues with using the apostrophe in an incorrect way.

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  9. Luke Griffiths

    The apostrophe is very misinterpreted as a use of punctuation is today’s society within the English language. There are several arguments to both sides on whether the apostrophe should be kept or completely removed. First and foremost it has three significant purposes; which are the marking of the omission of one or more letters, the marking of possessive case, and the marking by some as plural of written items that are not words established in English orthography. This suggests that there is reason to keep the apostrophe as it portrays its advantages when writing as it can sound more fluent when understood.
    On the other hand, there’s several websites that are set up primarily to abolish the apostrophe with certain reasons of why; it’s alleged by the ‘Kill the apostrophe campaign’ that apostrophe’s are wasteful and have no semantic effect therefore they are pointless to our usage. Another reason is that they impede communication and understanding due to people irresolute of why it’s used which suggests they aren’t improving communication; they’re actually making it worse. There’s also too much money being spent on proof readers for the incorrect usage which is preventable if the apostrophe is removed from our vocabulary; therefore overall I believe that the apostrophe should be abolished as there are several negative reasons relating to the apostrophe thus getting rid of it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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  10. Charlotte Powers

    Over the years, society has debated on whether there is an actual need for the apostrophe, or whether it has been kept purely for fear of being without it. Both the Kill the Apostrophe campaign and the Apostrophe Protection Society put forward convincing arguments on the future of an underappreciated piece of grammar.
    An example that has caused controversy recently is the elimination of the apostrophe in Waterstones. The Telegraph has named this act as an ‘outrage’, but Waterstones say they have justified reasons behind their decision. The short, snappy title is now more versatile on the streets around England, and fits now in with a more modern and contemporary feel to our High Street. The introduction to technology also means emails etc., are stronger and more effective. Again the same debate occurred only too recently with Tesco, or colloquially known as ‘Tesco’s’. However, considering there was no person in possession of Tesco’s in its entirety a possessive apostrophe as in “Tesco’s” would be illogical. No matter the business, all seem too have deleted the apostrophe in an attempt to make their brand more noticeable, and less wishy washy. David Crystal explains that: ‘The apostrophe was one of the last punctuation features to come into English orthography, and it has never settled down’. Many people struggle to understand the use of the apostrophe so either use it incorrectly, or not at all.
    The Kill the Apostrophe Campaign gives six reasons why we should abolish the apostrophe: apostrophes are redundant; they are wasteful; a tool for snobbery; technology makes it time consuming; impede communication and understanding and they are a distraction for otherwise reasonable and intelligent people. All these reasons have justified their argument that the apostrophe is just an unnecessary function, that wastes time and language can still survive without it. The example of technology proves that people can understand what you’re saying, even if you make this simple grammatical error. There only example of maybe accepting the apostrophe is when talking about plural possessives. Apostrophe advocates like to point out that the apostrophe stands in for missing letters, which makes it easy to know when to use it.
    The Apostrophe Protection Society show why the apostrophe is essential in our language: They are used to denote a missing letter or letters; they are used to denote possession and apostrophes are never used to denote plurals. So although yes we can live without the apostrophe, there are many cases why in Standard English we need the apostrophe too understand the meaning of the sentence of paragraph.
    Overall, I believe we should abolish the apostrophe as although there are many cases that show that language needs the apostrophe too be correct, the introduction too technology in this new generation will, unfortunately, push out the apostrophe for good.

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  11. Kyle O'Sullivan

    The apostrophe is likely to be the most misunderstood and incorrectly used punctuation mark in the whole of the English language. It is used frequently in many different words in the English language yet it still continues to be misused by many people. The apostrophe has three main purposes; The marking of the omission of one or more letters, the marking of possessive case, and the marking by some as plural of written items that are not words established in English orthography. These three purposes indicates the need to keep the punctuation mark in English language as it has various different purposes and is commonly used. However some individuals are very much against the use of apostrophes and websites have been set up to terminate the use of apostrophes. This movement has been led by the ‘kill the apostrophe campaign’. This group of people feel that apostrophes are very pointless as they have no sematic effect and are therefore considered to be wasteful. Peoples understand over the usage of the apostrophe is already very vague with many not knowing whether or not to include one into certain words. This leads to confusion which can negatively impact on the general understanding of words impeding on the clarity of communication between the writer and reader.
    I feel that the apostrophe should not be abolished from the English language. Although it can be confusing for some and has some negatives attached I feel that it is still a very important part of grammar and has many different uses. Therefore I feel it should be kept in the English language.

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  12. Ellie Lane

    The debate about the importance of the apostrophe began when Waterstone’s decided to get rid of its possessive apostrophe in order to become Waterstones. This appeared to send many linguists into melt down, with campaigns such as ‘Kill The Apostrophe’ putting several arguments forward as to why the apostrophe should be abolished. One of my personal favourites being ‘current technology (text messaging in particular) makes it timeconsuming to use them. Why give ourselves this stress when it’ll make no difference anyway?’ In my opinion, this argument is so ridiculous it’s actually amusing! Technological language (e.g. initialisms, acronyms and letter/number homophones) we use whilst text messaging is different to that of the formal language we may use when writing a letter (for example). Therefore, our grammar naturally adapts to this change of language and to my knowledge no one has been reported ill from the stress brought about by someone omitting an apostrophe in a text message. Until there is a case for this I see no reason for the apostrophe to be abolished.
    On the other hand, the apostrophe protection society puts forward three simple rules concerning the use of apostrophes in written English. One, they are used to denote a missing letter or letters; two, they are used to denote possession; apostrophes are never ever used to denote plurals. If everyone follows these three simple rules when then all shall run smoothly and apostrophe induced stress will be avoided, phew!

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  13. Fallon Hayes

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?
    I think we should keep the apostrophe. I understand that language evolves and adapts to ‘keep up with the times’ but I’m not sure I agree with changes like these applying to grammar.
    I understand how an apostrophe should be used and do so appropriately. Personally I don’t think it’s a difficult concept to grasp and so there should be no excuses for not understanding. Refusing to use them seems more ignorant to me than anything else. They serve a valid purpose and have no reason to be filtered out of language. If people can justify abbreviating words themselves then the same rules should apply to abbreviating phrases. But in order to show that the phrase has been abbreviated an apostrophe is needed. We live in a time where everyone is in a rush and convenience is key, but does it really take a significant chunk out of your life to take a second to write a dash between two letters. No. So I think the apostrophe should keep its place in the English language.

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  14. Michael Wilson

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?
    The apostrophe plays an important part in English language. Without it, many would think, that our exquisite language would fall into chaos and disarray. Although usually I would tend to disagree with prescriptivists (linguistically speaking) when it comes to grammar and punctuation, I tend to find myself agreeing with them. Punctuation and Grammar, in this case the apostrophe, are crucial in the English language and should not be skipped, whether for laziness or any other variety of excuses.
    The ‘Kill the Apostrophe’ campaign states that the apostrophe is ‘redundant’ and makes minimal difference to the state of the English language, and although they make many fairly good points, I disagree. Although many people will fail to immediately come up with any example of where the apostrophe makes that much of a difference, many words would not make sense without it. For example, plurals and ownership would become increasingly difficult to comprehend and understand without them.
    However, as text talk and internet use has increased the English language has quite drastically changed. Hardly anyone uses apostrophes when communicating through technology. This is evident in the Waterstones case. When they removed their apostrophe from their title, people were outraged. Yet their excuse was that it worked better in url codes and as a website addresses.
    Overall I think that the abolition of the apostrophe would be unnecessary and pointless. Whether it may be useful or not, what would be the point of getting rid of it?

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  15. Tom Brown

    Should the Apostrophe Go?

    Although despised by many, there are many people who would argue that without the apostrophe, the English Language would crumble. My usual view on the matter would be to leave it altogether and lean towards my descriptivist side. However, this time I’m afraid I will have to become the grammar nazi which I never thought I would become and intact agree with ‘prescriptivist’ theories that the apostrophe should stay. Grammar – in this case punctuation – are the most important part of written text, and without it I feel strongly as if many pieces of writing would fail to be legible.
    The campaign titled: Kill the Apostrophe, continues to make points that the English language has no need for this punctuation and attempts (poorly in my opinion) to argue that it makes very minimal difference to language. I would like to remind you briefly that if this were true, then words which had ownership and words which were plural would read the same. If that isn’t confusing to read then I’m not sure what is.
    One point which I can see the more logical side of is that the apostrophe is slowly dying out. Although I personally feel like it should stay, with the introduction of text messaging and instant messaging, people just aren’t being bothered to use the apostrophe anymore, and people aren’t becoming increasingly confused through reading these un-punctuated messages. This shows that perhaps we can live without the apostrophe, or at least learn to, although overall I feel like it might be more hassle to do so, and would save a hell of a big argument between opposing parties.

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  17. Dan Collins

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?
    Generally the apostrophe is the most commonly misused piece of punctuation and there are arguments on both sides of wether it should be abolished or it should be saved. There are two purposes for the apostrophe – to show a missing letter or to mark possession bus also used for plurals and third person singulars in verbs. David Crystal outlines that the apostrophe was one of the last punctuation features to enter the English orthography, he also explains that people have always found it difficult to apply the rules of the apostrophe consistently. Kill The Apostrophe make a convincing argument by saying that apostrophes are pretty much redundant as they do not make a semantic difference most of the time. Moreover, Kill The Apostrophe outline that apostrophes are a tool of snobbery and allow people to look down their noses at people who don’t use the rules correctly therefore class them as illiterate. Waterstones main argument for losing their apostrophe was because it made it easier in modern URLs and more versatile, in my opinion this is correct. In modern times we are frequently seeing an increase in online shopping rather than actually going out to buy something therefore by making it easier and quicker to access their website by removing the apostrophe they are trying to increase their online sales. Forms of Technology are advancing and apostrophes are rarely used in text messaging and other forms of online communication as they are time-consuming. Many call this laziness however I do not agree with this, English language is constantly changing with the times and people adapt. Each generation will make changes and people need to understand that this is and will always be happening. Killing the apostrophe may just be another one of those changes. I think it should be abolished but it should be a slow process not just get rid of it all together quick.

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  18. Issy Moore

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?

    There seems to be an ongoing discussion regarding the existence of the apostrophe and whether or not we should put an end to it. Some believe that this little piece of punctuation that seems to be causing havoc should be buried and put to bed whereas others are in favor of keeping it alive! Some argue, such as the article in the Guardian, that the apostrophe holds value for a number of different reasons, which to an extent is true. A first example of this would be that it saves confusion, giving the example of “my sisters’ friends’ books”. This to an extent is true. Why would we want to abolish something that makes our writing clearer to read? It makes no sense. However, there are a number of arguments that put the apostrophe in the firing line, starting with the ‘Kill the apostrophe’ campaign. In this article, it is stated that apostrophes make “no semantic difference” and therefore, they have no use in our language. The article also reads that the apostrophe is nothing but a money wasting and time wasting piece of punctuation and its only value lies within those who are ‘snobby’ about how to correctly punctuate the English language. The article then moves on to say that the apostrophe is an inconvenience now technology is improving- such as text messaging and it really makes no impact whether we use it or not anyway. Overall, I agree with the ‘Kill the apostrophe’ campaign. The punctuation mark really does have no impact on our language, even regarding words such as ‘he’ll ‘ and ‘hell’, because in the given context it would make sense regardless (for example “hell be coming to class soon…we know this means ‘he’ll’ and not ‘hell’). I strongly argue this because as an A level English student, I still haven’t been taught the ‘correct’ way in which to use the apostrophe so surely it isn’t that important?

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  19. Katie Chamberlain

    There has always been a debate on whether we should keep the apostrophe in the English Language. A big reason for this is the misuse of the apostrophe, and the fact that many people are unsure on when / how to use it.

    ‘Watersone’s’ now ‘Waterstones’ have got rid of their apostrophe. Tim Waterstone, has decided it is more “practical” to ditch the apostrophe. the reason for this is to make it more versatile and modern to URL links. It has caused a lot of outrage and controversy, even newspapers have been getting involved with the disruption that Waterstones getting rid of the apostrophe has caused. They found that even social media websites such as twitter are quite clearly being affected by this, with people tweeting #isnothingsacred. John Richards, the chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society said: “It’s just plain wrong. It’s grammatically incorrect. If Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstones. You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.
    Tremendous amounts of money are spent every year by businesses on proof readers, part of whose job is to put apostrophes in the ‘correct’ place. Some people say they are just one more tool of snobbery and also that current technology makes it time consuming to use them. Why give ourselves this stress when it’ll make no difference anyway? Is getting rid of the apostrophe really the end of the world? No. In my personal opinion the ban of apostrophes wouldn’t really affect me. I use apostrophes in the places I feel I need to however I am not 100% sure on the appropriate way to use them. I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with places such as Waterstones not using them as it doesn’t effect me.

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  20. Katie Chamberlain

    …Technology is now a very big part of life in the 21’st century, we have things such as auto correct, which is contributing to the fact that were either to lazy or forget to include apostrophe’s / put them in the right places! In contrast to my personal view that the apostrophe should maybe be abolished for the simplicity of making English Language easier to understand an negative point to this is, is the human race becoming to comfortable with the English Language being spell checked for us and as language and technology develops, are we in fear of loosing all rules of the English Language. In this case i can see that getting rid of the apostrophe could be a start to forgetting / getting rid of all rules in language slowly.

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    • Molly McAllister

      Should we abolish the apostrophe?
      The apostrophe, however difficult to place, is a formal and official piece of punctuation that aids written language to make sense. It serves two main purposes: to stand in place of a missing letter and to mark possession; however it also serves a secondary purpose to show plurals and third person singulars in verbs. The ‘Kill the Apostrophe’ campaign proposes that this punctuation mark is a ‘tool of snobbery’ -however, as explained in David Crystal’s example of “dot your I’s and cross your t’s”, if the apostrophe were abolished, “I’s” would read ‘is’, and there leaves no method of distinguishing rules of different words.

      Although the rules for the apostrophe aren’t ‘black and white’, as David Crystal states, I feel as though it would be almost impossible in some examples for language to make sense without the use of this punctuation. Given, the rules should be possibly distinguished and tightened for the use of this. As technology is progressing, things like auto-correct and word-check are able to automatically correct people’s grammatical errors, and so this makes us lazy and unable to learn properly what we should use and where. People should learn to adapt and apply the rules to their own writing, as the apostrophe really does enhance the sense making of written communication.

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  21. Amy Barker

    The apostrophe is commonly misused within the English Language and signals to me laziness or grammatical incapability to use the language correctly. Even with the internet and automatic corrections, the apostrophe is still used incorrectly perhaps more than correctly. This is striking as even with the help of other agents with our grammar, we still struggle to use our own rules correctly.
    Those who vote for the abolition of the apostrophe are merely ignoring the values of upholding the rules of our language. They could be fed up of being picked up on their mistakes and cannot learn the proper rules of language.
    In a technologically advancing world, I think it is important to keep the basic rules of language static and encourage the teaching of grammatical rules from a younger age to ensure that people are confident with their language.

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  22. Tom Cooley

    The apostrophe is the most widely miss used piece of punctuation in the English language and moreover the world. Most punctuation marks general use are to seperate and/or add clauses. However the apostrophe is different as this can determine the meaning of a word.

    With the apostrophe having various uses, one being to show possession, e.g That is Jack’s jacket. As well as showing the non inclusion or deletion in words. This is the most controversial use for the apostrophe, as it shows the modern day problem of grammatical laziness. With traditional standard English being claimed to have been abandoned or lost due to these shortened words. There are so many cases of where laziness has set in, with short utterances being shortened further being the most frustrating for linguists. For example I am becoming I’m and it is becoming it’s.

    It’s hard for people to realise this trend and the downward grammatical slope we seem to be currently on. As these conjunctions are such an every day part of life, and with the colloquial style of speech that has been bestowed upon is, coupled with the laziness of written texts being enacted by social media it is difficult to change our ways, and almost impossible to revert back to the days of ‘proper English’.

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  23. Abigail Holyland

    I believe there are both positives and negatives to the apostrophe; firstly, it does appear a little unnecessary, as referenced by David Crystal that we can manage in spoken language without knowing where there are apostrophes so why do we not seem to be able to cope without them in written language? Similarly David Crystal spoke about how the apostrophe was the last punctuation mark to become standardized. Surely this supports the view that it is the most unnecessary piece of punctuation? eMag also talks about how there are many exceptions and shows how easy it is to make a mistake, which also makes me feel apostrophes just add to confusion and are unneeded. The change of today’s English language does suggest that apostrophes are a waste of time, as they can be difficult to use; for example in URL’s and they take up a character for a tweet.

    However, lack of any apostrophes can lead to confusion; for example, ‘he’ll’ would become ‘hell’ which may change the entire meaning of a sentence, leading to confusion. Apostrophes can also aid a quick and precise informal text, for example they change ‘I cannot’ to ‘I can’t’ which changes the style of the speech, helping people understand hidden meanings. A lack of apostrophes is also grammatically incorrect currently, therefore when they are misused and simply completely forgotten, many devoted English language fans find this upsetting as they do not like the fact that the English language is evolving, as shown by the article about Waterstones (previously ‘Waterstone’s’).

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  24. Edie

    Many shops have gotten away without using the possessive apostrophe for years (Boots, Morrisons, Starbucks) and have been a personal choice on the companies behalf to not use it, so is the big uproar with Waterstones really needed? As the ‘Kill The Apostrophe’ article states ‘apostrophes are redundant and consume considerable time resource’ so not only are they a personal preference but they are a time waster as well. Not only are they making writing less efficient, webpages don’t use them in their URL addresses and in spoken discourse, apostrophes go unnoticed (exclamation points and question marks get intonation). That being said, if apostrophes were dropped there would be more confused people around than non-confused people. The ambiguity around what a person means could range from a word being interpreted as being a plural, a different word (she’d and shed) or even the recipient contemplating the author’s stupidity. Most people will judge a person’s intelligence on their use of Standard English, thus the apostrophe being a marker of respect between people. Also, a lot of professions rely on the apostrophe’s existence. Editors would have fewer tasks to do in the proof reading stage if apostrophes were abolished and teachers would have to spend a lengthy amount of time explaining to students why some texts include apostrophes and some don’t. I say we keep the apostrophe because it is widely recognised in the English language and it would be too messy to rid it now when it plays such a big part in replacing letters, marking possession and showing something is plural.

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  25. Georgia Leggatt

    The apostrophe is the punctuation mark which presents most problems to most people. This is because the rules of how to use it are complicated and just clutters things up. There are two main rules for how and why to use apostrophes. The first is signifying possession, for example, ‘Sophia’s break-up’. The second is for missing out letters, like ‘don’t or can’t’. Some argue that the rules of the apostrophe are not clear because it is the last punctuation mark to be standardized, as it was only created in the 19th century. David Crystal said that ‘The apostrophe clutters things up so s lot of people leave it out altogether, just to make it easier. This shows how irrelevant it is’. Also in his interview, it was mentioned that people talk a lot more these days, so the apostrophes aren’t needed as much anyway as they aren’t obvious in spoken language.
    The ‘kill the apostrophe’ website gives multiple good arguments as to why we should get rid of the punctuation mark. It mentions how they are time consuming, a waste of money and just a distraction. To defend Waterstone’s when they decided to get rid of its possessive apostrophe in order to become Waterstones, Tim Waterstone said that it is ‘practical’ to drop the apostrophe, for things like URL links and for the ease of writing down the name of the shop in a quick time.
    However, I don’t think that it is hard for the population to be able to learn how to use the punctuation correctly. There are no excuses for people to be able to use them over time if everyone works a little bit harder. It makes writing and work look more attractive and make a little bit more sense. If we don’t start using apostrophes properly, it will start to become harder to read words as they will become incorrect.

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  26. Abbi Lowden

    The usage of the apostrophe is misinterpreted by many, leading to both confusion and annoyance (as highlighted in the Kill the Apostrophe article). They are so commonly misused that their function has become, arguably, arbitrary and unnecessary. While I do understand the views of the Apostrophe Protection Society concerning their pursuit to maintain ‘correct’ grammar, I am not convinced that if apostrophes did come to an end, our language would fall into disarray. With developing technology, we live in a world of continuous present tense of reception. Therefore, we expect immediacy in communication and dropping the odd apostrophe in texting etc. allows us to be time efficient. Also, businesses (for example ‘Waterstones’) have every right to spell their name however they wish and this does not impact on our lives. Standard written English, however, does require the ‘correct’ use of the punctuation mark. It helps to reduce ambiguity and ensure that the reader interprets the word as intended (e.g. ‘he’ll’ not ‘hell’). Having said this, would members of the general public really notice if they saw an incorrect sign, or would the context inform them of the intentional meaning without too much perplexity? Students may find the inconsistency between the strict language rules they are taught in school and the ‘incorrect’ punctuation they see around them confusing. As a result, I agree with The Guardian article and David Crystal in that, while apostrophes do have a place in language to aid communication, the rules do not have to be so rigid and circumstance if a major factor.

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  27. Annie Hoar

    Should We Abolish The Apostrophe?

    On the one hand I believe that Apostrophes are important in the English Language as if they weren’t then they wouldn’t have ever come about in the first place but I do side more with them not being important and in some cases fairly useless. For example, in ‘So Waterstones – no apostrophe? Hey, no catastrophe’ – The Guardian – states that ‘the world has not come to an end’ implying that people are making the situation into something bigger than it actually is and one businesses decision isn’t a big deal. The Telegraph contradicts this by stating that ‘it’s just plain wrong’ and ‘Its grammatically incorrect’ both points true but only because it is to do with a grammar rule. However it doesn’t change the way it is read or spoken aloud and no one is confused by the loss of the apostrophe.
    The website ‘Kill the Apostrophe’ suggested that apostrophes are ‘wasteful’ also stating that current ‘technology makes it time consuming to use them’ this therefore one reason for their abandonment. The website also explores when apostrophes are used to make a functional difference in words like ‘we’re and were’ and ‘he’ll and hell’ making the point that depending on what the sentence the word is in says, you will always be able to tell if it makes sense. For example, if someone put ‘hell be here soon’ instead of ‘he’ll be here soon’ you would automatically assume that the person meant ‘he’ll’ or you would even read it that way – proving the point that language will make sense whether you use apostrophes or not.
    David Crystal states that ‘people believe that apostrophes clutter things up so they leave it out’ this showing how irrelevant it is. His argument was that there is ‘no apostrophe usage in speech’ so surely it shouldn’t be needed in written modes especially when ‘people now talk much more.’ So surely this proves how unnecessary it is. However, Crystal did argue that without the apostrophe, in some cases, words could change. For example, ‘I’s without the apostrophe would be Is’ hence why it is important to keep the apostrophe – but surely this mistake can be avoided if we still use the capital ‘I’ to show the difference.
    Lynne Truss’ Cutting A Dash – The Endangered Apostrophe discusses why people may abandon the use of apostrophes or use them incorrectly. David Dennison explains why some people can’t get the hang of them, stating that ‘It is different from a lot of other irregularities in language – it is artificial and bears no correspondence to the spoken word’ – people get confused with the usage because you never hear apostrophes in the spoken mode. Dennison states that ‘people find it difficult to know when it shouldn’t be used’ backing up the idea that it isn’t used due to the confusing rules of the punctuation mark.
    Overall, I feel like it is a waste of time and while there are good arguments from both sides I feel that the punctuation mark is dying and the lack of it in writing shouldn’t be frowned upon but viewed as evidence for its irrelevance and therefore the lack of usage should be accepted.

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  28. Rachel Fisher

    The apostrophe is one of the most important punctuation marks there is, but honestly I still don’t understand it sometimes, and I am so grateful for grammar checkers. It is confusing and difficult to remember at times, especially if you’re not very familiar with the rules or still struggle with its application from time to time. The abolishment of the apostrophe in Waterstones doesn’t particularly bother me. It’s a very trivial issue, that only people with very little excitement in their lives seem to enjoy worrying about.
    Mr John Richards, the head of the Apostrophe Protection society believes that apostrophes are essential, so removing them from places they originally were seems like an outrage. I don’t know why he is so upset about apostrophes and that they if they are taken away they may become extinct in our language so should be preserved. The issue at hand is not that great. It is only a punctuation mark- a little squiggle on a page that can mean things but can also cause outrage if used wrong. I do disagree with whoever create the Kill the Apostrophe website though. Although it is irritating to see one used incorrectly, they are essential for writing. When it matters, there is a huge difference between “were” and “we’re”. They have different meanings and can change the meaning of what is being said.
    David Crystal is right though. It only matters in written culture as it cannot be heard. It will stay due to having too much tradition behind it, but until everyone can use it correctly it will always cause problems. No- it shouldn’t be abolished because it’s important. But really, it’s only a punctuation mark..

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  29. Rowan Young

    I think we shouldn’t abolish the apostrophe as it does have a purpose and is vital to the English language as it lets us see the difference between words. For example, if the word parent was meant in the sense of one parent owning something (‘that’s my parent’s’) then it would be written like this: ‘parent’s’ and if it was meant in the sense of meaning multiple parents’ it would be written like that. People shouldn’t really get confused about it and should trust that the meaning of that word as it is written. Just because some people don’t know the correct way to use an apostrophe, doesn’t mean that everyone else can’t use apostrophes. Also the fact that the apostrophe adds value to our very sophisticated language is a very good point that David Crystal mentioned in his interview with Jeremy Paxman. He also mentions that the apostrophe isn’t perfect and that even he couldn’t get it right all the time. But he overall suggested that the apostrophe should stay.
    When Waterstones got rid of the apostrophe, they sparked a debate on whether they were right or wrong to do so. I think that Waterstones has done something that now fits in with the modern world and computers, and this will help all businesses in the future and the present. The English language is always evolving and I think that this was a natural evolution of the apostrophe. So maybe we shouldn’t use apostrophes online when browsing… but I still believe it will make more sense to keep the apostrophe in our everyday writing, so that people still understand the correct intended meaning. Basically we don’t need it for searching for things on the internet, but we still need it to make sense of things.

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  30. rowan195

    I think we shouldn’t abolish the apostrophe as it does have a purpose and is vital to the English language as it lets us see the difference between words. For example, if the word parent was meant in the sense of one parent owning something (‘that’s my parent’s’) then it would be written like this: ‘parent’s’ and if it was meant in the sense of meaning multiple parents’ it would be written like that. People shouldn’t really get confused about it and should trust that the meaning of that word as it is written. Just because some people don’t know the correct way to use an apostrophe, doesn’t mean that everyone else can’t use apostrophes. Also the fact that the apostrophe adds value to our very sophisticated language is a very good point that David Crystal mentioned in his interview with Jeremy Paxman. He also mentions that the apostrophe isn’t perfect and that even he couldn’t get it right all the time. But he overall suggested that the apostrophe should stay.
    When Waterstones got rid of the apostrophe, they sparked a debate on whether they were right or wrong to do so. I think that Waterstones has done something that now fits in with the modern world and computers, and this will help all businesses in the future and the present. The English language is always evolving and I think that this was a natural evolution of the apostrophe. So maybe we shouldn’t use apostrophes online when browsing… but I still believe it will make more sense to keep the apostrophe in our everyday writing, so that people still understand the correct intended meaning. Basically we don’t need it for searching for things on the internet, but we still need it to make sense of things.

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  31. Elliot Woodward

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?

    I think that the apostrophe is crucial in certain areas of written language, however in terms on spoken language becomes almost irrelevant and pointless. Obviously if we were to abolish the apostrophe meanings would be misconstrued in relation to possession, example – “That is my parent’s coat” meaning only one of them and “That is my parents’ coat” meaning both/more than one parent. However apostrophes can become very complicated very easily such as with the proper noun ‘James’ as it already ends in an ‘s’ which means the apostrophe becomes after the first s but before the second s to resemble one person called James. I agree with David Crystal when he speaks in an interview with Jeremy Paxman about the apostrophe’s existence. He says that a lot of people think the apostrophe clutters things up and so therefore leave it out of sentences, so suggests how irrelevant it is. I think that the problem is the older generation have explored more than one use of the apostrophe in the past and therefore see it weak in terms of it being part of the English Language punctuation. This has caused a divide in society between being in favour of the apostrophe and not. I don’t think abolishing it would be beneficial but leaving it out of a complicated sentence or word shouldn’t be deemed as a dramatic ignorance of the rule.

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  32. Marakesh Jarvis

    Lots of people think that apostrophes are wasteful, because lots of money has to be spent on by businesses on proof readers every year in order to segregate what is ‘correct’ and what is not. The rule of the apostrophe has confused people since it became apart of our punctuation practices in the mid 19th century. Nowadays the punctuation has become ‘modernized’ and by that it is has been completely abolished. Waterstones decided to take it’s plural apostrophe off the brand and turn what was known as ‘Waterstone’s into Waterstones’. This caused an outrage with literate educators who strictly follow the rules of English language and do not agree with the rule breaking process. It was also ironic for a shop like this to abolish grammar rules, because Waterstones is a book shop. So the argument is, should be abolish the apostrophe? Even linguists like David Crystal decided we should take easy. Not that we should abolish the rule completely, because that would be very stupid. For lexis like ‘He’ll’ and ‘Hell’, it would change a word’s semantics in some cases – which would confuse people even further. Abolishing the apostrophe would confuse people, even more than it confuses people now. Keeping it as part of our English language is the only way forward to stop rules becoming totally absurd.

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  33. Emily Kenmore

    The apostrophe is possibly the most misunderstood and incorrectly used punctuation mark in the whole of the English language. It is used frequently in many different words in the English language yet it still continues to be misused by many people. The apostrophe has two main purposes; The marking of the omission of one or more letters, and the marking of possessive case. These two purposes indicate the need for the apostrophe to be kept in the English language as it has various different purposes and is commonly used. However, some individuals are very much against the use of apostrophes, setting up websites and debates to argue their opinions. This movement has been led by the ‘kill the apostrophe campaign’. This group of people feel that apostrophes are very pointless as they have no sematic effect and are therefore considered to be wasteful. Peoples understanding over the usage of the apostrophe is already very vague with many not knowing whether or not to include one into certain words. This leads to confusion which can negatively impact on the general understanding of words impeding on the clarity of communication between the writer and reader. Lynne Truss argued that the apostrophe bares no correspondence to the spoken world and that the rules of its application are arbitrary and difficult to learn.
    I feel that the apostrophe should not be abolished from the English language. Although it can be confusing for some and has some negatives attached I feel that it is still a very important part of grammar and has many different uses. Therefore, I feel it should be kept in the English language.

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  34. Thomas

    Personally I believe myself as a descriptivist. However, regarding the statement ‘Should we abolish the apostrophe?’ I see my answer as that of a prescriptivist point of view. My views are that the apostrophe should not be abolished. I believe this because the apostrophe has three main functions; to show ellipsis, possession and singularity or plurality. These two functions have many little rules, for example; if nouns end in s the apostrophe comes after (Mr Jones’ dog). I t is regarded by many that due to the various little rules the apostrophe is irrelevant. An example of this is a statement from the ‘KILL THE APOSTOROPHE’ campaign, which says the apostrophe ‘serves only to annoy those who know how it is supposed to be used and to confuse those who dont’. If this is to be true, then why not spend more time emphasising how the apostrophe should be used rather than to abolish it completely. Therefore, I believe the decision of Birmingham City Council to abolish the apostrophe on street signs is, as the chairman of ‘The Apostrophe Protection Society’, John Richards, describes ‘absolute defeatism’. As I believe the changes made by the Birmingham City Council contradicts what is being taught in schools across the country completely. In a TV interview with Jeremy Paxman and David Crystal, Crystal is right when he implies that the apostrophe reduces confusion in regards to ellipsis, whilst it increases it when used to show possession. I believe his first point to be true, as without the apostrophe, as an example, ‘we’re’ would become ‘were’ causing confusion. However, I believe his second to be true also, as he demonstrates that most people would use an apostrophe when writing ‘Crossing the I’s and dotting the T’s’ which is in fact incorrect, therefore I would call for the apostrophe to remain but have the miss conceptions regarding singular and plural terms, as well as possession to be cleaned up.

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  35. Nathan MacGilbert

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?
    The apostrophe is arguably the most misused piece of punctuation in the English language, alongside the semi colon. It is misused by people who have been speaking English as their primary language for years. Despite the difficulty that so many people face when attempting to use the apostrophe, I do not believe that it should be abolished. The apostrophe is a vital part of a language that helps us differentiate between many words such as hell and he’ll or were and we’re. As the site http://www.killtheapostrophe.com/ shows, we need apostrophes for plural possessives otherwise they will not make sense, the site suggests creating an alternative but surely that’s equally as complicated as just using an apostrophe.
    I think that businesses such as Waterstones omitting apostrophes does not pose an issue because there is nothing that readers could confuse it with. I believe that creating an ‘Apostrophe protection society’ is unnecessary as it isn’t a big enough deal to require ‘protection’ however it should remain in our language.
    The video with David Crystal shows that there are instances in which the apostrophe is not needed and is often omitted, an example of this is in ‘the parents association’ in which writers often don’t put an apostrophe in as it is not needed. Despite this, there are lots of instances in which the apostrophe is needed therefore I believe that it should not be abolished.

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  36. Kirsty Savage

    The Apostrophe has caused controversy since its existence, and is often the most misused punctuation in the English Language. The apostrophe has two correct purposes. It marks the omission of one or more letters and highlights possession. This shows it has importance, because it has purpose. However, some argue that apostrophes are often unnecessary, in order to be able to understand the purposes it conveys, and so should be abolished. For example, if I wrote ‘my sisters car’, most would be able to recognise that it is my sister who possesses the car, without the use of an apostrophe marking so. Despite apostrophes being regularly used within the English Language, many still frustrate over applying them and constant misuse creates confusion amongst society. Lynne Truss supports this by stating that the apostrophe is difficult to learn. On the other hand, David Crystal argues that although the apostrophe is difficult, it should be kept. This is because the apostrophe does add significance, as its use is not always unnecessary. Furthermore, the use of the apostrophe is grammatically correct, and although it can be argued that this rule has been made up, all rules of the English language have, and if we abolished all of them, language would loose its standard form, which is the shared and understood language by all of society. However, Crystal does argue that its use should be taken easier, and like all areas of language, should be allowed to be experimented with, so long as the situation is appropriate and the audience is able to understand the language used. I agree with Crystal, and believe that the apostrophe should not be abolished. However, I believe society should be more tolerant with language misuse and welcome language experimentation, so long as the circumstance is appropriate to do so.

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  37. Afton Sperry

    Any habit you intend to form usually to takes a while to start, but even longer to break. It’s like this with the apostrophe. It’s the last item of punctuation to be standardised, and this only happened in the mid nineteen hundreds. So we’ve recently acquired these bad habits, and are struggling to break them. It is clear that the apostrophe is single handily the piece of punctuation that presents most problem for most people. Although everybody knows it’s two main roles (possession and contraction), there are many different types of possession and many different types of contraction. Whether you’re displaying how many eggs you have, or talking about how you can’t do something, people seem to get muddled very easily. Primarily, the reason people struggle with getting their heads round the idea of the apostrophe is simply because it’s not an element of the spoken mode. In an interview with Jeremy Paxman, David Crystal is keen to point out that it is not actually susceptible in speech. There is pitch change when using an exclamation mark, indicating an exclamatory sentence, and similar intonation at the end of a sentence when using a question mark. But the use of apostrophises is simply not evident when you’re having a chat with someone. So there is my first point, they only really matter in the written mode. I am not denying from the fact that there is still petty arguments, but imagine I’s without the apostrophe, it would be mistaken for is. For as long as its existence, the apostrophe has signified intelligence and a high level of education, I mean even primary aged children understand the basic rules, but does that mean it still is as important as what it was? Julia Guillen points out that it’s almost an endangered species, and the conventions that effect some, affect more than others. So the rules that a primary school child has just learnt that day does not make them a more intelligent individual than a CEO that learnt the rules 20 years ago. The fact that the rules are forgotten shows the unimportance of the punctuation mark. I earlier touched on the point that apostrophes may only be important when the usage is crucial. The simplistic rules on the other hand are a load of rubbish. Who cares whether you’re saying dogs or dog’s? Or eye or eyes’? The simplistic rules often don’t make sense, or else surely they wouldn’t have been forgotten? As my point is now becoming more clear you may think that I am neglected the apostrophe use in all areas. My only neglecting part is where the punctuation mark is not essential, and where everyone doesn’t know the rules. Everybody knows that cannot becomes the contraction can’t, with the use of the apostrophe; it wouldn’t make sense other wise. The same goes for all contractions, but the problem lies when trying to show possession. Showing ownership is easy, everyone knows you use an apostrophe, but it’s where, and frankly it doesn’t really matter. The fact that you say meal’s when it should have been meals doesn’t effect the way the sentence reads, so why should it matter? Do not forget what I said earlier, apostrophes only matter when they’re essential, but like most things, if the sentence makes sense then it’s fine to forget it. The idea in psychology about memory is you forget things that don’t matter and aren’t important, so this therefore applies for apostrophises. If you don’t need it, why use it?

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  38. Hannah Franks

    the argument with regards to the usage of the apostrophe has been on-going since it was first entered into English Orthography, and as David Crystal says, ‘it has never settled down’. I agree with the idea to the idea of abolishing the apostrophe to an extent; I believe that with the online evolution of social the internet and by removing the apostrophe, this would in fact achieve this idea. As James Daunt (managing director at Waterstones) said “Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling”, highlighting that with the formatting of the online world, apostrophes cause hassle and confusion. I think that as language has evolved through the years, we have already lost so many linguistic devices and removed this rule for many words, meaning that it is just human nature to try and improve and shape our language to a more ‘user-friendly’ form. Apostrophe’s have proven to form great ambiguity and power-play through society, due to the fact that their variety of forms mean many people don’t understand the full meaning, so this also support the fact to remove this ambiguity, why don’t we just remove the apostrophe?
    Despite this, I do understand the effect apostrophes have on representing the traditional beings of the English Language to be perceived as grammatically correct, but as shown through many modern examples (Morrisons) they show a disregard to the rule, so shouldn’t we?

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  39. Katie Tebbutt

    Should we abolish the apostrophe?

    In specific circumstances such as written communication, I believe that the apostrophe may be crucial. This is due to things related to possession for example. However, during spoken language, I agree that the apostrophe is extremely pointless and irrelevant. During the interview with David Crystal and Jeremy Paxman, Crystal argues that the apostrophe is a sign of ‘educatedness’ and gives the example of ‘I’s’ without the apostrophe becomes ‘is’. This then changes the meaning of the sentence all together. Although that this example clearly shows that in some situations that are essential to the understanding of the sentence, I agree with them being extremely complicated and can so easily be misused. David crystal does argue that the apostrophe does clutter things up, hence many major companies deciding to leave it out altogether. Whilst the apostrophe does aid communication in many different ways, I do not believe that the rules of grammar should be that inflexible that one apostrophe in the wrong place should be such an issue.

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  40. Ben Barratt

    Although it is clear that apostrophes are essential in the written form of communication, I believe that the apostrophe is slowly losing its importance in English language. This is largely due to the development of social media in the past decade which has led to an informal register of communication, therefore an apostrophe would not be seen as necessary. Furthermore, apostrophes are often omitted in the written mode e.g. ‘Waterstones’ which clearly shows that the need for this form of punctuation is merely artificial. They are becoming redundant, and the number of cases where they make a semantic difference is miniscule. Although it can be argued that the importance is crucial in written mode as they are used to denote missing letters and possession. They are also an important way of differentiating formal written communication from informality as it is a sign of intellect and education to include an apostrophe. However, this could also be seen as a negative as this form of punctuation is used as a tool of slobbery by the intellectual elite of society.
    Additionally, the apostrophe is often seen as the least important of all the punctuation devices, it was the last to be standardised in the 19th century and has therefore only existed for 200 – 300 years in the English language. This is also emphasising how the language is able to cope without apostrophe. The apostrophe causes more confusion than continuity as it is unclear in many cases as to when it should be applied, for example, ‘The Parents Association’. Finally, the apostrophe bares no resemblance to spoken language as you ‘can’t hear an apostrophe’ unlike an exclamation mark or question mark.

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  41. Laura Pilkington

    As language continues to evolve, society is becoming more tolerant of changes and simplifications within the English language. As part of this, there is an apparent ongoing debate regarding the significance of the apostrophe. Despite this, I feel that it is important that the apostrophe keeps its place. Apostrophes serve a valid purpose; to signify possession. For example, The Guardian argues that apostrophes are crucial in providing clarity such as in the instance of ‘my sister’s friend’s books’. To me, it makes no sense to abolish the apostrophe as it makes our language easier to understand and clearer in written communication. Apostrophes are also used for contraction. For example, we shorten phrases such as ‘do not’ to ‘don’t’ and ‘cannot’ to ‘can’t’ for convenience.
    However, within spoken language I do agree that apostrophes are irrelevant to an extent because as Lynne Truss stated, “you can’t hear an apostrophe” like you can with a comma or question mark for example. In addition, it could be said that the apostrophe is an unnecessary punctuation device because as David Crystal stated, it wasn’t “standardised until the 19th Century, making it only about 150 years old” and therefore something that language can cope without. This makes it the most misinterpreted form of punctuation because to use an apostrophe isn’t something that people have always done and the rules are complicated to apply to different contexts, for example, ‘The Parents Association.’ The problem is that the understanding of apostrophes is vague and arbitrary.
    On the other hand, I disagree with the ‘Kill the Apostrophe’ campaign because although it is irritating to see apostrophes used excessively and incorrectly, they are necessary for coherent writing. There is a huge semantic difference between ‘he’ll’ and ‘hell’ and ‘we’re’ and ‘were’. I appreciate that in some cases, such as ‘Waterstones’, the lack of an apostrophe does not promote ambiguity or significantly change how it is spoken or read. But in a lot of cases, meaning does differ considerably and although it may be seen as ‘a tool of snobbery’ by some, it is important to ensure that readers can understand your words as they are intended and that you have a good command of English grammar.

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  42. Leah Fairgrieve

    The Apostrophe could be seen as a crucial punctuation mark in terms of written language. Crystal believes that the apostrophe is often misused as ‘people found it difficult to apply the rules consistently, right from the start’. However, he argues that the apostrophe stops the English language becoming confusing and that people should not narrow down the rules of when/how to use it. Crystal states that the apostrophe was the last punctuation mark to be standardised. This suggests it is an unnecessary piece of punctuation. Furthermore, the development in technology has changed society drastically and has meant that less people are learning the apostrophes correct use as most devices have auto-correct.
    Although the apostrophe can be seen as a confusing, irrelevant and a ‘tool of snobbery’. The ‘kill the apostrophe’ campaign puts forward some convincing arguments about why it is an irrelevant punctuation mark. With that taken into consideration I disagree when they state the example of ‘he’ll and hell’ with the point that apostrophe usage might be said to make no ‘functional difference’. I do believe in certain contexts the apostrophe can be beneficial, as it can be quicker and easier to use when writing an informal text for example ‘I did not’ can be contracted to ‘I didn’t’. Furthermore, as the apostrophe is currently a frequently used and important punctuation mark, I believe that people should be educated on its correct use to stop confusion in written language.

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