Spelling with a c or an s (was Re: A College of Magics)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Aug 29 14:27:46 EDT 2003


Robyn wrote in reply to Caroline's
>>Does anyone know of a website which gives good
>>explanations of grammatical terms?
>
>I have set an investigation of this as an assignment for my students. I
>don't currently know the answer, but I will be happy to post some results
>to you in a few weeks' time. I want them to find a site which they rate as
>accessible, understandable and helpful.

Somebody I knew once decided, in exasperation at an in-tray without one
single correct use of an apostrophe in its entire contents, to produce
rules for the use of the apostrophe and to distribute them to all his
colleagues in a life assurance company.

He had hoped for simple rules, maybe a mnemonic or two, but in the end his
work, entitled "The Apostrophe in English: A Public Servic Announcement",
ran to more than two sides of A4, and he felt that it still didn't cover
all the ground -- and nobody paid any attention, as far as he could tell,
because they still always got it wrong when they wrote to him.  And *he*
was the *boss*, so they had a vested interest in paying attention to the
bees in his bonnet!

If you felt really cruel, you could tell your students to produce a single
side of A4 in 12-point Times Roman, giving all the rules for the use of the
apostrophe.  It probably can't be done, so the assignment would keep them
busy and happy and out of mischief for a good long time trying.

Minnow


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