Lisa's week

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  • Lisa's week: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

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Lisa's week: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

So, we’ve talked about contracted words (I’m, can’t, Rock ‘n’ Roll) and covered the possessive apostrophe too (Lisa’s pen, the children’s homework, the boys’ football) and that’s a lot, right? I mean, there can’t be much else to this tiny symbol, can there?

Well yes, we could just leave it there. These are the main reasons we use the apostrophe but there are a couple of tiny things that could just round off the topic.

Are you ready?

  1. Apostrophes are NEVER used to reflect a plural! I mentioned last week that there is a tendency to see an “s” and feel it needs an apostrophe. This is NOT the case! Standard plural words do not need one.
  2. To indicate the structure of unusual words that have become standard in English such as “I cc’d my boss into the email” or “If you’re not sure how to do it, I think I need to write a list of do’s and don’ts”.
  3. You can use an apostrophe to indicate the missing century when writing a year although it can also be written without. “I love the music of the ‘80s” or even “I love the music of the 80’s” – here the rule is very flexible!
  4. In some expressions of time such as “I’m going on holiday in two weeks’ time” although you can always avoid having to worry about this if you simplify it down to “I’m going on holiday in two weeks”. However, I know that I use the first style of expression quite often so it can be useful to know.
  5.  To indicate the omission of a specific place linked to the people mentioned in the sentence. An example of this would be “I need to go to the doctor’s today.” What you are really saying is that “I need to go to the doctor’s surgery today.” We use this quite often when we say things like, “I was at my friends’ last Friday evening “ (at my friends’ flat) or “I have an appointment at the hairdresser’s” (at the hairdresser’s salon).

Now I know this all sounds very complicated but if take the different uses of the apostrophe one at a time to learn and practice, it will come together more easily. There are lots of resources online to help you practice the correct usage and of course, all you have to do is ask me and I’ll be there to help!

Have a great week practicing your apostrophe!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)