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The Apostrophe

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by

Henri Whitehead

on 6 October 2017

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Transcript of The Apostrophe

The Apostrophe
The Poor Abused Apostrophe
Where Did It Come From?
- It began in the 16th century to
mark omitted letters
.
- Later, printers began to use it to
mark possessives
.
- Then, later we heaped even
more responsibility
on onto the wide-eyed apostrophe.
- Now, most people don't have a clue what it actually does.
Warm-up Time
Working only with your gut instincts,
rewrite
the following sentences with as many apostrophes as you think could be correctly inserted:
Example
:
The four spiders webs were not as intimidating as he had thought.

The four spiders' webs weren't as intimidating as he'd thought.
A.
She did not believe that he would ever return to their houses fireside.
B.
He had not shown up since 1987. But if her mother said he would turn in two weeks time, she would probably be right.
Channel Your Inner Britain
Watch this clip from My Fair Lady and then make the following sentence reflect the accent of Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn's character).
C.
In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.
8
Simple Rules for Using My Apostrophe
1. To indicate a
possessive
in a singular noun, or, In layman's terms, to say that one thing belongs to another:
The president
'
s right-hand man.
The Chamber of Commerce
'
s red leather sofa.


Let's Practice
Question 1:
A.
Who's the partys' candidate for vice president this year?
B. Who's the party's candidate for vice president this year?
C.
Whos' the partys' candidate for vice president this year?
D. Whos' the party's candidate for vice president this year?
2. To indicate
time
or
quantity
:
A few days
'
vacation.
Three dollars
'
worth.
A day
'
s work.
Two weeks
'
notice.

3. To indicate the omission of
figures
and
dates
:
The summer of
'
69
4. To indicate the omission of
letters
:
You
'
re the one that I want!
They
'
re never the same.
I
'
d
'
ve gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids.
5. To indicate
non-standard
English:
"Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog my cats ef I didn
'
hear sumf
'
n. Well, I know what I
'
s gwyne to do: I
'
s gwyne to set down here and listen tell I hears it agin."
6. It appears in Irish
names
such as O'Sullivan and O'Connor.
7. To indicate the
plural of letters
when doing so would cause
significant ambiguity
:
She had dotted her i
'
s and crossed her t
'
s.
She couldn't disintinguish his u
'
s from his w
'
s.

8. To indicate the
plural of words
where not using it might cause
confusion
:
I've had enough of your no
'
s; please just do it.
When the
possessor
is a plural that doesn't end in 's' (an irregular plural), the apostrophe stays before the 's':
The Women
'
s magazine.
The People
'
s vote
The Men
'
s bathroom
When the
possessor
is a regular plural, the apostrophe comes after 's':
The families
'
welfare.
The ladies
'
softball

team.
The guys
'
night out.

WRONG!
If this rule doesn't come
naturally, try changing the sentence construction:
vacation of a few days.
worth of three dollars.
work of a day.
notice of two weeks.
It's vs Its
It
'
s never too late.
My dog loves its toy.

Some well-established omissions (flu, phone) no longer need an apostrophe.
Let's Practice (cont.)
Question 2:
A.
The fox had its right foreleg caught securely in the traps' jaws.

B. The fox had it's right foreleg caught securely in the trap's jaws.
C.
The fox had it's right foreleg caught securely in the trap's jaw's.
D. The fox had its right foreleg caught securely in the trap's jaws.
Let's Practice (cont.)
Question 3:
A.
Our neighbor's car is an old Chrysler, and its' just about to fall apart.
B. Our neighbor's car is an old Chrysler, and its just about to fall apart.
C.
Our neighbor's car is an old Chrysler, and it's just about to fall apart.
D. Our neighbors car is an old Chrysler, and its just about to fall apart.
Let's Practice (cont.)
Question 4:
A.
In three weeks' time we'll have to begin school again.
B. In three weeks time we'll have to begin school again.
C.
In three week's time we'll have to begin school again.
D. In three weeks' time well have to begin school again.
Let's Practice (cont.)
Question 5:
A.
Didnt you hear that they're leaving tomorrow?
B. Didnt you hear that theyre leaving tomorrow?
C.
Didn't you hear that theyre leaving tomorrow?
D. Didn't you hear that they're leaving tomorrow?
she didn
'
t believe that he
'
d ever return to their house
'
s fireside.
He hadn
'
t shown up since
'
87. But if her mother said he
'
d turn up in two weeks
'
time, she
'
d probably be right.
In
'
ertford,
'
ereford and
'
ampshire,
'
urricanes
'
ardly ever
'
appen
.
Full transcript