Wasn’t it apostrophes? Now I’m not so sure.

Mar 22, 2024 | 3 comments


There used to be a running joke among elementary school teachers that Americans just could NOT get how to use apostrophes.  I thought (silly me! that it was the one basic bit of usage that was the least understood by the most adults.  I’ve written several blogs explaining apostrophes, the most recent being Apostrophes Are Simple Really written back in 2011.  Here’s the link: https://sydneyofoysterville.com/2011/apostrophes-are-simple-really/  Check it out.

Now, though, I’m not so sure that apostrophes are the most mis-understood of the basics in English usage.  I think it goes right back to the identification of a syllable — second only to the A-B-Cs as far as understanding how to read and write.  “Who cares?” you may say.  And you may be right.  But, I for one think that if you can’t identify a syllable, you probably are in need of reading and writing assistance.

I found a great explanation online which I’ll  include in this blog, but first I want to thank my friend Vicki for posting a game involving the first syllable of the player’s name.  I was amazed at how many of the responders couldn’t identify their very own first syllable!  Maybe they don’t care, but to me it’s another of those big announcements regarding the failure of our education system.  The first grade teacher in me came bursting forth!

Clapping Out Syllables

Here is a simple lesson for you to practice in the privacy of your own home — maybe using the first names of family members:

  • “All words have syllables. A word might have one, two, or even more syllables.”
  • Reading has two syllables: read (clap)—ing (clap).” To demonstrate, clap as you say each syllable.
  • Blue has one syllable: blue (clap).”
  • Pumpkin has two syllables: pump (clap)—kin (clap).”
  • “Now you try. Clap your hands for each syllable in the word pig.”

This is from the Spelling section of the All About Learning Press website.  Check it out!


  1. Cate Gable

    Jeeeeeeeesus. People have trouble with syllables? Past participles and conditional verb forms must be absolutely left in the dustbin of grammar!!!!

    • sydney

      Yes! I found it quite unbeleivable. And even more unbelievable that very few people seemed to share my concern. I buess it’s another one of those things that we don’t have to worry about it these days — the bots will take care of all of our spelling and grammar and we can just drift along. I guess what bothers me most is how much fun people are missig by not having even a rudimentary understanding of how our language works!!! S/

  2. Diane Buttrell

    It’s the misuse of pronouns that startles me.


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