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Avoiding Apostrophe Abuse!


Does anyone have any methods/techniques/tips to reinforce using apostrophies correctly?

I am currently writing a business writing skills session and the humble apostrophe is one part of the training.

Many thanks,

Jo House

6 Responses

  1. I’m not sure about “exciting”…
    there is something in the name of the school;
    The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School,
    which sums up just about all you need to know about apostrophes….unfortunately I don’t know what it is!


  2. Apostrophes
    I’d look for suitable extracts I could cite from ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ by Lynne Truss.

  3. Apostrophe Training
    I used to use the reason that an apostrophe denotes “belonging to” in many cases with my children. So for example, the man’s dog is actually “the man his dog” i.e. belonging to the man. so if you want to write pea’s instead of peas, I would say “what belongs to the pea then?” which was suitably silly to reduce the kids to giggles but made the point.

    Then of course there is the use of a comma to denote the missing letters, for example “hasn’t”, which is a simpler rule I think.

    Having taught them the rights and wrongs of apostrophe usage, you could send them out to see how many wrong ones they can find (far too many in my pedantic view!) or give them some choice examples and do it as a quiz. Hope this helps

  4. Proof reading exercise
    I do lots of business writig training – and one good way of doing it is to give small teams a proof reading exercise. This is a passage with lots of examples in it – and a number of of them are wrong. The winner is the first group to spot all the mistakes. They also have to say what the correct version should be.
    I also collect lots of examples of the apostrophe wrongly used.
    Good luck with this

  5. Like Nicky says
    I would start off the day with less than half an hour establishing that everyone knows the rule of apostrophes (polite ahem – please make sure you spell it correctly!)and then send them out in pairs to take photos of bad examples with their phones. Give them a deadline by which to return. The team with the highest number of genuine examples wins something. Teamwork correcting the examples.


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