The Grammarphobia Blog

Teacher education

Q: Gotcha! Your Sept. 16, 2006, post about “each other” says: “Short answer: you’re right and your teacher’s right.” Methinks you made an error here. You used the possessive “teacher’s” to modify the word “right.” That’s not right, unless you’re referring to something like a teacher’s inalienable right.

A: I’m surprised at you! The apostrophe in English has two functions: (1) to indicate a possessive; (2) to show where letters are omitted in a contraction.

In that sentence from the blog, “you’re” is a contraction of “you are” and “teacher’s” is a contraction of “teacher is.”

“Teacher’s” can be either a contraction or a possessive, as in these examples:

(1) “The teacher’s a firm disciplinarian.”

(2) “The teacher’s class is always well-behaved.”

In the first sentence, we have a contraction of “teacher is.” In the second, we have the possessive of “teacher.”

Now, go stand in the corner! (Just kidding.)

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