No apostrophe for possession?

The head of our English department is going for her PhD right now, while still teacher. Several friends have told me that she says that apostrophes are totally unneccesary to show possession, because the majority of the time it should be obvious by context.

Is this really advocated anywhere?

Not in English.

The only unapostrophe’d (I know that’s wrong) possessive that I can think of is ITS.

I’d wait & see if she actually gets her PhD before I’d try out any tricks she might champion.

'Course, I mught just be a bit pedantic.

Sounds like streamlining of language to me. Doubleplus-ungood.

Ditto to Matchka’s post.

“I ran into Mike’s car.” would then become “I ran into Mikes car.” Is that what she’s talking about? Surely not.

That’s exactly what she’s talking about. I didn’t know about this until I edited a friend’s paper and mentioned that she really needed to work on apostrophe use - I didn’t see one in the entire thing. Then she told me and I was :eek:.

For what it’s worth, German gets along fine without
using the apostrophe to indicate possession, instead
reserving its use to show missing letters, the way the
apostrophe is used for contractions in English.

Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friend’s.
Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friends’.
Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friends.

Useful things, those apostrophes, and they’re endorsed by the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, at least.

Woo, would I be tempted to turn that kind of thing in to that teacher. Right on, TW!

Ask your English department head to apply her new rule to the following statements:

We ran out of food, so we ate the dogs.


We ran out of food, so we ate the dogs’.


Obviously the apostrophes aren’t absolutely necessary. When we communicate orally we get along fine without them, and when an ambiguous sentence such as the one cited in the previous post is not made clear by context, it can be rephrased. On the other hand, writing is in general less ambiguous than speech, and I don’t see any reason why we should abandon the convention of using apostrophes for possession. Is it too difficult for people, or something? Well, apparently it is, since so many people extend the usage to the forming of plurals…

Sorry, TWDuke, your example is way better than mine.

sundog66, I would say that writing is - in this particular context - in general more ambiguous than speech, since in speech there is a great deal of tone and nonverbal inflection that may be employed to give meaning.

Possessive pronouns never take apostrophes. This applies to its as you said, and also his, her, my, their, our, and your, for instance.

And there’s the ever-popular whose.

That’s a good point. To clarify, though, I had examples like these in mind:

I’m a card dealer vs. I’m a car dealer.
It’s an illusion vs. It’s an allusion.

The spelling clears up the ambiguity. This is even easier to see in Chinese, where synonyms run rampant, yet in general each meaning of a given syllable has its own character.


Originally posted by TWDuke

Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friend’s.
Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friends’.
Don’t eat my french fries, eat your friends.

amore ac studio -

How would TW’s sentences be written in German (i.e., withlut apostrophes)?

Antiochus: German uses declensions to distinguish between plural/singular and to show posessive case.

It would be something like (warning: I’m not a native speaker, so I may make mistakes)
… esse deiner Freundes.
… esse deiner Freunde.
… esse deine Freunde.

The 's is used in cases like ‘Dass ist Peters auto’ or so.

AIUI, the possessive ending was originally -es but the e was eventually dropped, and the apostrophe represents the missing letter.

If it comes to that, is the apostrophe really needed in wasn’t and hasn’t?

I read (can’t remember where) that it was actually originally “The man his coat” or “The dog his ball”, The 's represents the contraction of the possessive pronoun (if true, then the masculine form must have been used for feminine pronouns too).

any other cites that university professor’s are smart? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Gimme a guy that makes a living building motors over one that argues punctuation for a PhD anyday. Guess what will make my life better?

Please tell me that was ironic…