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Apostrophes in 'Twas and 'Tis

(25 Posts)
christmaselfin Wed 15-Dec-10 13:02:34

I need your help to resolve a dispute.

Can 'Twas and 'Tis ever be spelt (correctly) as T'was or T'is?

Is it also acceptable for the apostrophe to be omitted entirely?

CrystalTits Wed 15-Dec-10 13:10:22

The apostrophe replaces the missing letter, so pedantically speaking 'Twas and 'Tis are correct.

I've never seen them written without the apostrophe.

christmaselfin Wed 15-Dec-10 13:14:27

But T'is and T'was are definitely incorrect? I don't see how people manage to work that one out.

AMumInScotland Wed 15-Dec-10 13:27:42

T'is and t'was are definitely wrong, but lots of people just throw apostrophes at random without understanding what they are there for, so I can see why they think they should put one inside the word instead of outside. E.g. isn't and doesn't etc have an apostrophe in them, but you don't often see words with the apostrophe at the start or end.

nickeldonkeycarrymary Fri 17-Dec-10 13:11:46

yeah, T'is and T'was are wrong wrong wrong - the apostrophe doesn't have a function there.

it's to replace the I - so 'Tis and 'Twas is correct because that's where the missing letter is.

nickeldonkeycarrymary Fri 17-Dec-10 13:12:27

(plural possessives, AMum ? wink )

MrsvWoolf Fri 17-Dec-10 17:07:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AMumInScotland Fri 17-Dec-10 17:09:54

nickel - yes but anyone who isn't confident about apostrophes probably doesn't use plural posessives properly either wink

nickeldonkeycarrymary Sat 18-Dec-10 13:06:17

that's true! grin

I'd sooner see no apostrophes at all than misplaced apostrophes.

MardyQuickFollowThatStar Sat 18-Dec-10 14:09:11

Did you also complain about the superfluous apostrophe as in "O' Star of Wonder" and "Christmas Tree O' Christmas Tree".
They obviously think apostrophes lend an "olde worldy" charm to their Christmas decorations.

DoNotWantAnotherMincePie Sun 19-Dec-10 08:36:30

Oh glad I have seen this. I was trying to teach my 8 yr old about apostrophes and got as far as replacing a missing letter (Don't, Can't etc.)

but then I got stuck :

Won't - what is that replacing?? wo not ??

If I typed mummy's - I am assuming that means Mummy is ?? but what if I meant that something belonged to mummy??

Why are some apostrophes at the end of a word ?? What letter are they then replacing??

As you see I am confused - can someone enlighten me please - or point me in the right direction.

AMumInScotland Sun 19-Dec-10 14:45:37

Won't is will not - so I guess the apostrophe is replacing the "o" in "not". But I'm not sure how we get from "will" to "wo"!

Mummy's could mean either mummy is or belonging to mummy - I suppose you wouldn't be in any doubt which one was meant if you saw it in a sentence, so it doesn't matter that it could mean two different things.

And apostrophes at the end of a word are usually there for "belonging to" someone or something which ends with an "s" - so instead of saying Chris's car you can make it Chris' car, or the Smiths' house. I think that might be one where either is technically all right, but you go by whether it would sound odd if you said it. "The Smiths's house" would sound peculiar, so you miss out the extra s, but leave the apostrophe to show where it would be.


PartridgeinaRustyBearTree Sun 19-Dec-10 15:00:15

Won't comes from "I woll not" which was the original form for the first person and was contracted first to wonnot and then to won't - in older texts you often see it written wo'n't to indicate there are missing letters before as well as after the n. Over time the first person contracted form came to be used for the second and third person as well.

ChippyMinTurnAgainWhittington Sun 19-Dec-10 15:06:07

That's interesting RustyBear. DS had to do abbreviations for homework the other week and I was scratching my head about how will not could become won't.

DoNotWantAnotherMincePie Sun 19-Dec-10 15:49:28

Thanks!! Still not totally sure about the rule using it :

It is mummy's (surly I am saying mummy is??)

or when to use it :

it is Chris's or it is Chris' - don't understand the difference - or when to know when to use what !!

AMumInScotland Sun 19-Dec-10 17:42:30

If you're saying "This is mummy's" then you are saying "This belongs to mummy". That's written the same as "Mummy's going shopping now" but in that case you mean "Mummy is going shopping"

For Chris's or Chris' I think it's just whichever you prefer so you are right using either.

DoNotWantAnotherMincePie Sun 19-Dec-10 17:47:46

hmmm so what letter are you replacing when you write "this is mummy's" because you are not saying "this is mummy is" - so that is why I don't get it LOL

FunkySnowSkeleton Sun 19-Dec-10 17:47:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoNotWantAnotherMincePie Sun 19-Dec-10 17:52:53

ooo so there is two uses : missing letter and to show when something belongs to someone?? sorry I am being thick - I only learnt the missing letter thing aged 35 !!

Is there a ' in learnt?? learn't ?? so why is there a ' in it ? lear not?

magichomes Sun 19-Dec-10 17:56:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunkySnowSkeleton Sun 19-Dec-10 18:01:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AMumInScotland Sun 19-Dec-10 18:07:58

There isn't an apostrophe in learnt, it's just a word without any missing letters.

And yes, apostrophes are used for missing letters and possessives. I don't think there's any connection, although maybe it comes from "Mummy hers"?! Seriously I don't know if that has anything to do with why we use apostrophes for both things - though there are probably people on here who would know!

DoNotWantAnotherMincePie Sun 19-Dec-10 18:10:33

ohhh I get it !! so it doesn't matter that mummy's reads mummy is - so the same rule doesn't apply ie missing letter thing.

Thanks all - I think I can explain that to my 8 yr old.

nickeldonkeybethlehemsinsight Mon 20-Dec-10 14:02:53

AMumInScotalnd is almost correct - but when using a singular (in her example chris's car) - you must not miss out the second s - the only exceptions to this are when there is an s in the middle of the name - which is why we write james's but jesus' and moses'

the S is missed off plural belonging to : so The Smiths' house wa scorrect, because it's a house belonging to lots of Smiths. (if it was just Mr Smith that lived there, you would say Mr Smith's house)

nickeldonkeybethlehemsinsight Mon 20-Dec-10 14:05:03

there is a fantastic book on the subject - by Basher called Punctuation:

here isbn: 9780753419649

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