Are you confused about the apostrophe? - UKcopy Copywriting and Corrections

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Are you confused about the apostrophe?

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

I can’t think of a punctuation mark that causes more excitement and confusion than the apostrophe. Many people, especially English teachers, get very upset when it is used incorrectly.

In fact, a British man got in trouble a few years ago for drawing apostrophes onto road signs where they had been omitted by his local council. There is even an Apostrophe Protection Society!

Practicality versus Pedantry

There is so much confusion around when to use the possessive apostrophe that many are advocating dropping it entirely as the meaning of the sentence is usually clear from the context. However, this hasn’t gone down well with the apostrophe advocates.

I’m going to go out on a limb, risking the ire of the apostrophe pedants, and suggest if you’re not sure about whether you need an apostrophe or not then you should leave it out.

A little light reading

Fortunately some people on the internet have got a sense of humour about the apostrophe. Have a look at these:


How to use the apostrophe – The Oatmeal

Free the Apostrophe



Grammar Goofs for Native Speakers?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

A post at pointed me at an infographic by called 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly.

It’s a great little summary of the most common grammar mistakes that we see being made by native English speakers but, it turns out, not so much by non-native speakers.

Mistakes by non-native speakers can be more elementary than the 15 listed by CopyBlogger. Missing out the definite article (the) and the indefinite article (a) tend to be the ones we see the most. However, they tend to get things like then/then. their/there/they’re and the general use of the apostrophe right.

The difference, I think, comes down to the way we learn languages. Our native tongue is usually learned by listening to others speak it. The most common errors I see with young native speakers these days are spelling words how they sound and not how they are correctly spelled.

When we learn a second language the process is more formalised and, usually, involves more study of the writen language than the spoken. Also, while English teachers in the UK have been told not to teach grammar directly anymore you will tend to be taught grammar when learning a foreign language.

So, I think, this illustrates why English teachers wish their students would read more. It really helps!

6 Simple Ways to Write a Better Cover Letter

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Write a Better Cover Letter

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When it comes to searching for a new job, your cover letter is the first impression you make with a potential employer. A great cover letter will have the hiring manager excited to read your resume. A bad cover letter may mean he or she won’t read your resume at all. The following are six simple ways to write a better cover letter:

  1. Start off with a bang. Don’t go for the tried and tired standard opening sentence of so many cover letters, “Please find my resume attached in response to your position.” Instead, be more original, so that you grab the hiring manager’s attention from the very beginning.
  2. Make your cover letter specific to the company. Although it may be tempting to use a simple cover letter that allows you to change the name of the company and position title, a better cover letter is specific to the company to which you are applying. Include details about why you’d like to work at that company or some of their recent achievements to further personalize your cover letter.
  3. Match your cover letter to the job description. If the job description says the company is looking for qualities A, B and C, make sure you note that you have these qualities (assuming you do). Describe them using wording very similar to that of the job description, so that your cover letter closely matches it. This way, from the beginning, the hiring manager will think you’re a perfect fit for the position.
  4. Start tooting your own horn. Although your resume is the place to fully list all of your accomplishments over the years, it is important to cover some of the major and most relevant accomplishments in your cover letter. If possible, use quantifiable results, such as an increase in sales figures or a decrease in costs.
  5. Size matters. Your cover letter should not exceed one page in length. Use your normal 12-point font. The goal of a better cover letter is to whet the hiring managers’ appetites, so that they’ll be hungry to read your resume. Don’t make your cover letter so long and all-encompassing that hiring managers feel like they don’t need to review it.
  6. Proofread your cover letter before sending it. If you want to write a better cover letter, spend time proofreading it before you send it. Even the most well-written cover letters can be tweaked to be even better. If possible, have a friend or family member read your cover letter to help you spot any errors.

Randall Davidson reviews cover letters and resumes every day, as part of his duties as a co-founder of proofreading services company ProofreadingServices.Us. Randall knows that some of the cover letters he receives could benefit from ProofreadingServices.Us’ document proofreading services.