If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging. Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Apostrophes to show where letters are missing (contractions)

In English we can use apostrophes to show where one or more letters have been missed out:  don't (do not), I'm (I am), They're (They are).  These are often referred to as 'contractions' because the words have been made shorter.

We tend to use contractions in speech, because they are quicker to use than saying the two words in full.  This sort of abbreviation is not used in writing where formal, Standard English is required: children will need to learn that they are useful for informal writing, such as speech in stories, plays and forms non-fiction where writing is more conversational, e.g. newspaper quotes, some persuasive writing, etc.

The apostrophe should be used in the position where the letter/s are omitted, e.g. can’t (cannot), it’s (it is), you're (you are), they'll (they will). These apostrophes help the reader distinguish between words which use the same letters: I’ll – ill, he’ll – hell, we’re – were.

The following table lists some of the most common contractions and their full versions.  You can use these in two ways with your children:
  • Show them the contracted version and ask them what it means.  What is it short for?  Discuss what letters are missing.  What is the punctuation mark that replaces the missing letters?
  • Show them the full, two-word version.  How could we make this shorter?  What word do we usually use instead of these two words?  What letters do we miss out?  What punctuation mark do we need to use instead of the letters?  How do we write it? (Make sure they use the apostrophe above the line – not as they would use a comma!)

I am
they are
I will
they will
you are
you will
do not
he is
did not
he will
shall not
she is
will not
she will
must not
it is
has not
it will
have not
we are
had not
we will
are not

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