Apostrophe Protection Society closes down

The Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) has been forced to shut down, due to an alleged lack of interest in the subject.  Listen to the  news report below to find out more:

You can read the transcript here

You can also read this article, or have a look at some ‘apostrophe catastrophes’.

This is no trifling matter. For example,  should it be King’s Cross or Kings Cross? On the tube map, it says ‘King’s Cross’, but on the National Rail website, it does refer to the station as ‘Kings Cross’, which illustrates the insecurities in the use of the apostrophe over the centuries.

Some time ago, a grammar vigilante was claimed to roam the streets of Bristol late at night correcting bad punctuation on Bristol shop fronts.

With all this in mind, you could think of possible speaking points:

  • Can you see the APS and this grammar vigilante’s points? What’s your take on their actions?
  • Is English spelling and punctuation being neglected? If so, what may be some possible causes?
  • Would English benefit from having an ‘Academy of the English Language’, just like Spanish or French have?
  • Should written  language adopt more similar conventions to spoken language?

Follow-up to the story (Dec 9th 2019): Renewed interest in apostrophes after society closed down

passive voice: news headlines- revision exercise

Turn these active sentences into likely headlines, by using a passive voice transformation. Only include the agent (by…) when you feel it’s relevant.

Open the self-grading google form in a new tab here.

More about passive voice and news headlines here.

Inversions after negative or restricting adverbs and for conditional clauses- examples in real language use

If you want to know how to use these expressions-typically used for emphasis-you can watch the video below:

  • No sooner had I …than
  • Seldom have I seen…
  • Little did she know…
  • Should you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact me again.
  • Had I known …I wouldn’t have…

You can find examples of these inversions in such TV shows as The Crown, The Big Bang Theory, or Friends:

Not only will I drive you there

Nowhere is it specified that…

Under no circumstance will you give her that engagement ring.

 

  • You can also find plenty of examples in the news:

Not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind. 

Only when the capsule has survived that (…) will people talk about success. 

Only then will they be able to agree to an extension. 

Never before has the Security State of Army, Police, intelligence and militias been forced to concede to the will of the people. 

Scientists (…) were prepared to cool the brains, should they show (=in case they showed) any signs of consciousness. Had they done, it would have been hugely significant. (=If they had done, …)

Rarely (in one night) can both main parties have suffered such a grim set of results. [Both the Conservatives and Labour have just lost a significant amount of votes in the recent local elections, in all likelihood as a consequence of the Brexit deadlock].

(On Theresa May standing down as Prime Minister) Perhaps, had she sought compromise much, much earlier (=if she had sought/ looked for compromise…), then Mrs May’s time in Downing Street need not have ended in such disarray and failure. 

(Published 10.02.2019, updated 25.05.2019)

Cleft sentences to emphasise part of the sentence

Sometimes, you need to give special emphasis to a specific part of the sentence, either because you want to make a contrast, or because it is new information you want to highlight. The so-called cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences, or it cleft and wh-cleft sentences can help you achieve those ends.

Watch this video to see some examples of how to use them and to what effect:

sentential relative clauses- referring to the whole of the previous sentence

Some relative clauses refer to a whole clause, a whole sentence, or a longer stretch of language. We always use which to introduce these clauses.

They stayed for the weekend, (and) it was great. – It is grammatically correct, accurate…but something like this would sound better, especially in writing: 

They stayed for the weekend, which was great.

Something similar would happen with these sentences:

Some users do not think twice about the comments they post on social media, and this may have dreadful consequences.

Some users do not think twice about the comments they post on social media, which may have dreadful consequences.

Interactions between people who are near to each other are reduced and it could be dangerous for true relationships.

Interactions between people who are near to each other are reduced, which could be dangerous for true relationships.

Watch this video for further explanation:

 

-ing as the subject of a sentence / It is…to …

Watch this video for an explanation of how to use this structure:

  • Teaching is very rewarding.
  • It is very rewarding to teach. 

Conditional clauses: further ways of expressing hypotheses

Watch this video to find more ways of expressing hypotheses in English:

 

If you simply want to have a look at the slides, you can do so below: