Patience is a virtue home

I occasionally receive emails about apostrophell. This is a good thing and is to be encourage. However, before you email me, try to consider the purpose of this site - I am here to criticise that section of grammar and punctuation which relates to the humble apostrophe. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I received an email like this:

To: Ashley Frieze
From: Peter Patient
Sent: 20 August 2002
Subject: apostrophe

While searching for Ikea's web site I came across your comment about their use of the apostrophe and cannot resist a reply.

The apostrophe does not make a word plural. "Ikea's web site" = "the web site of Ikea". "..........of something-or-other" is the genative case of the something-or-other. The form with the apostrophe is an alternative way of expressing the genative case.

Where we get in a real mess is with words such as "its" and "it's". The former means "it is"; the latter " of it", eg "it's head" = "the head of it (eg. of a statue)".

I have not been blessed with a gift for languages and Latin and Greek at school and college caused me much misery. However, they have, time and again, proved their worth in helping me understand grammar and the structure of language in general. Its a pity they are not part of the National Curriculum.

Peter Patient

I think there is one line in the above which needs repeating:

"I have not been blessed with a gift for languages"

He really should not have bothered emailing me. Here was my reply to him - currently unanswered by the linguistic buffoon:

Hi Peter,

I cannot help but think you entirely missed the point of the article you read and the site itself. Check out

My site is about two things: how to use the apostrophe (check out the guide) and taking the piss out of those people who, publicly, fail to do so. I'm trying to make the point that exposure to language, without the explanation of its rules, is no way to learn how to use it, and that the regular exposure to incorrect use of language perpetuates more mistakes and more exposure.

You've attempted to explain apostrophes to me in your email, with reference to ancient languages. Now, you have two choices. I can actually reply to your points (and I will pick your mail to pieces), or I can thank you for your interest and leave your points alone. It's your choice - I suggest you proof read and spell check your mail before you answer the question.

Yours pedantically,


The article Mr Patient was visiting was a correct critique of a sign, seen in Ikea quite some time ago.

Now I suppose I ought to itemise the errors in the email I received about this article:

I suppose the fact that I too studied classical languages at school makes me less forgiving of this well intentioned reader. He should have known better.

You have been warned!

02 September 2002
Ashley Frieze