Anya Hindmarch and the art of the apostrophe

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 15th November 2011

During my short-lived teaching career I was taken aback by my students’ poor grasp of basic grammar. Many of them avoided capital letters like the plague, used commas instead of full-stops and as for semi-colons, well, forget it.

So maybe St Paul’s School for Girls, one of the most successful schools in the country, is on to something with its decision to run traditional grammar lessons for pupils aged 11 to 14.

“You would think that we might be attracting pupils who already have a pretty strong command of English grammar given that we’re very strong academically and that we expect a very high standard from the pupils that we test for admission,” headmistress Clarissa Farr told the Daily Telegraph.

“However, the reality is that a lot of our students don’t even have a basic command, as we would see it, of the rules of conventional grammar when they arrive.”

I don’t know what she’d think of the bag above. I’m a huge fan of Anya Hindmarch, who’s a brilliant businesswoman and fantastic designer. But I nearly fell off my chair yesterday when I spotted this £165 Anya Hindmarch bag on the Net-a-Porter site.

I reckon that whoever came up with that slogan should sign up for a grammar lesson immediately. Urgent apostrophe classes needed.

14 comments so far

  • I’d need to have breathed slowly into a brown paper bag to calm down if I had seen that! Uni students are just as bad – and yet the rules on apostrophes are so simple …

  • Hi Emma

    Great post. I’ve been thinking about apostrophes a lot lately my self while doing the final edits on Tout Soul. I was wondering, as a fellow Francophile and grammar-addict, you might know the answer to a question that is perplexing me greatly: the correct spelling of goats cheese. Is it goat’s cheese or goats’ cheese (given that it probably comes from more than one goat) or no apostrophes at all? No one seems to be able to answer this question definitively! One person suggested it shoulg be goat cheese but that doesn’t sound right to me



  • Thanks so much, Karen. I can’t wait to read Tout Soul. On goat’s cheese, I’m pretty sure it should be goat’s cheese. Lecturer Linsey (the grammar whizz who commented above), do you agree?

  • Unbelievable. Somewhat akin to the giant sign my cousin saw for a new Sainsbury superstore. I have asked her to remind me of their blunders.

    Keep up the good blogging, Emma. You are one day nearer the end.

  • Misplaced apostrophes drive me round the bend. It’s almost as if the writer is thinking that if they throw enough of them at a piece of work, some of them will be correct. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. Unbelievable. Polly

  • Thanks very much for commenting, Polly. I thought maybe I was the only one to get irritated at the misuse of apostrophes – but I’m clearly not!

  • I guess some people just have blind spots with English. Mine is the difference between been and being. I think I have grasped it but make mistakes time and again.

  • You’re right, Kate. And I had to have a major think about Karen’s query about where the apostrophe goes in goat’s cheese.

  • My 17-year-old daughter goes against the prevailing tide punctuation and grammar-wise. She’s been stunning her teachers by properly using semi-colons since she was in 7th grade. The drawback of her mastery of punctuation is that other people’s mistakes make her absolute insane. There’s a sign at a local tourist trap that reads (in 12″ high, 3-D letters): T-Shirts, Gifts, Souvenirs, Moccasin’s. That apostrophe in the last word is particularly offensive to her since they got it right in the first three words. I regularly have to restrain her from confronting the staff or physically removing the offending apostrophe herself.

  • Hi Masked Mom. Your daughter sounds very impressive. Perhaps she could write her own grammar guide for the 21st century?

  • I am with you completely on this. Apostrophe misuse is just as bad as they’re/there/their mixups and misplaced quotation marks. If I’m in the mood to get agitated with something I go here:

    Masked Mom, I love the semi-colon! Few people can use it correctly so well done to your daughter =]

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