The apostrophe is a little squiggle which is often used incorrectly, with wild abandon, in the most inappropriate ways. I'd like to save it, to be an evangelist, and show people how to use it. Join with me on my apostrophe journey which has spanned many years, and hopefully will span many more to come! Teena Hughes

To ask a question or make a comment, please click the COMMENT link under each blog post, and type your comment.

Monday, September 04, 2006

When to use LOOSE or LOSE

A great question came via my website asking about when to use either 'loose' or 'lose'. Let me see if I can explain it in a way which will help ...

The pronunciation for these words is slightly different in UK English - 'loose' definitely has an 's' sound at the end, whereas 'lose' has more or a 'z' sound.

Some examples of when to use them both are:

"If my pants are loose and fall down, I'll lose the race!"

"I have a pocketful of loose change - I hope I don't lose it."

"To win or lose - the choice is yours."

"The overcoat was way too loose, and made him look silly."

"Did you
lose something, sir?"


LOOSE = not tight [clothing], morals [as in loose morals]

LOSE = a form of the word "LOST", e.g I lose, you lose, we lose

These are wrong ways to use the words:

"Pretty soon she will loose her baby teeth."
= Should be 'lose' her baby teeth.

"My skirt is lose, I need to wear a belt with it."
= Should be "skirt is loose".

Hope this helps someone understand the difference between loose and lose,
Ciao for now

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Apostrophes with PLURAL WORDS

This is a question which does confuse a lot of people ...

What is the correct way to use an apostrophe in this case?
Is it : "my children's schools" OR "my childrens' schools"?

First of all we need to know that the word CHILDREN is already plural.

That's really all you need to know. :)

If the word 'children' is plural, then the apostrophe goes BEFORE the 's', like this:

I have 3 children who are school age. The children's schools each send home a Newsletter weekly, and the 3 of them keep us up-to-date.

Remember : You put the apostrophe *before* the *s* when the word is already plural.

Examples : children, women, men - each of these words is already plural.

You can read more on my website

Ciao ciao, hope this helps!

Easy tip for spelling STATIONERY

I received a wonderful tip in the email this week from Mike:

A good mnemonic is
"stationERy papER,
stationARy cAR".

This is indeed a very good way to remember when to use -er and -ar for the word stationery.

Thanks Mike!


Does "others" have an apostrophe?

I had an enquiry from my website the other day, and it was this:
Would you use an apostrophe in the word others for the following? And if so, before or after the s?

"While he is assertive and dominant, he is also able to maintain awareness of others needs."
Now to help you understand when and where to put the apostrophe, let's look at the sentence.

==> The important bit is - he is aware of the needs of others.

Therefore the word 'others' I would consider to be plural, and so 'others' will 'own' the 'needs'.
So, it would be written with the apostrophe AFTER the 's' of others, showing [1] plural, and [2] ownership. Here is how it should be written:
"While he is assertive and dominant, he is also able to maintain awareness of others' needs."
PS - if the word 'others' referred to ONE other person, the apostrophe would be before the 's'.

I hope this helps someone - let me know if you have questions!

the Apostrophe Queen