It’s that time again …

It must be nearly Father’s Day because there’s been a spike of activity on the blog this week as readers find our annual discussion of the apostrophe (2010 and 2011).

Now it seems that the British government has heard our plea and is reinforcing the teaching of the apostrophe in the soon-to-be-revised National Curriculum for English. Perhaps future generations of English schoolchildren will be able to correct us all. The latest draft for primary (elementary) English includes:

There will be a focus on grammar – for instance, children will be expected to understand how to use the subjunctive and correct use of the apostrophe – for example, not using it to indicate plurals such as “I went to buy some apple’s” or using “it’s” as a possessive.

This raises the question of what the writers think they mean by the subjunctive: presumably the unreal conditional form if I were the Prime Minister unless they are trying to bring back the present subjunctive, We insist that apostrophes be taught better, which has all but vanished from British English.

From one grammar dad to another, happy Father’s Day!

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Delaware English Language Institution, as well as a textbook author, consultant, and speaker. Nigel holds a PhD from the University of Delaware, a master's in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Cambridge University. He is currently director of Project DELITE, a federal grant providing ESL certification to Delaware teachers. He also brews beer.

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