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‘Punctuation inspires passion. People have been driven into paroxysms of rage by the simple misuse of an apostrophe’

Mary Kenny


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Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

There’s a joke about an old grammarian on his deathbed. “I die, or I am dying — both are correct,” are his last words. I don’t think that grammar and syntax will be the last thing on my mind when I depart this world, but it’s surprising how much passion and inflammatory feelings such matters can inspire.

Take the apostrophe. A veteran newspaper sub-editor, John Richards who died recently aged 97 felt so driven to correct the incorrect use of the apostrophe that he launched the Apostrophe Protection Society. The constant sight of notices for “car’s”, “banana’s”, and even road warnings saying “unsuitable for HGV’s”, so enraged him that he went into campaigning mode in 2001.


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