Proofreading for everyone

Posts Tagged ‘possessive’

“S” is for possessive

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The letter “s” is used with an apostrophe to indicate possession — as in “my aunt’s pen.” The usage goes back over 1500 years, around 450 AD, to Old English, language of the Anglo-Saxons. The language had deep roots in Latin, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit which produced a complex system of noun declensions and verb conjugations, most of which have gone now, leaving mere remnants (like this curiosity of possessiveness).

How did the genitive case work? Important nouns were given the ending “es” to indicate the genitive — the possessive case — like “the cloud’s velocity.” As time went by more and more nouns were treated like this, so by the Middle English period (1000–1400) this method of indicating the possessive applied to all nouns. But by then the letter “e” in the “es” was no longer pronounced and was redundant.

So about the middle of the 1500’s English printers began to omit a silent “e” and replace it with an apostrophe, which was hitherto a French practice. Hence “my auntes pen” became “my aunt’s pen” and remains like that today.

The practice is way behind us, so “the cates pyjamas” has become “the cat’s pyjamas”. We no longer recognise our ancestores ways!

Those thirsty for more can visit Wikipedia on Old English.

Tips and hints

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

common misteak

Duplicate words

It’s easy to type little words twice and, if they end up in the sneakily right place in a paragraph, it’s hard to spot the duplication. Watch out for words like “the”,”of”, “and”, “air”, “salt”, “back”, “butt” and “but” hiding copies of themselves where you least expect them. Even longer words can get into stealth mode – words such as “wheelbarrow”, “submarine” and “international” – although not often.


Misspelling

Commonly misspelled words (shown with correct spelling). Continue Reading…