Know where to stick them?

3rd March 2006 at 00:00
Apostrophes. So hard to spell, so easy to place. At least, that is the way it should be, but almost every organisation - including the Department for Education and Skills - has suffered the curse of the greengrocer's - or should it be greengrocers'? - apostrophe at some time. It is not fair: an aid to clear communication, badly taught, has divided us into a nation of pedants and grammar-phobics, almost down class and age lines. Short of exorcising the little blighters, what's to be done?

Easy. Ministers have ensured schools' league-table ratings will depend on this squiggle. From 2009, misplaced apostrophes, commas and quote marks may stop GCSE candidates from getting English at C or above. Three cheers...

for making sure we'll all know exactly where to stick it.

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