May I offer a thank you to everyone who wrote in about the BBC question on the use of apostrophes. I am sorry I haven’t been able to reply to everyone individually, but I would like to say that I have read all the comments with much interest.
I think the overall point is whether one takes the question to have within it every piece of information necessary, or whether one assumes that people who set exam questions are sometimes slap-dash and don’t incorporate into the question every piece of information needed.
I think my rebellious tendencies lead me to think that sometimes question writers make assumptions – but of course I do recognise that the view that the question is utterly complete in itself in terms of the amount of information needed to find one, and only one, correct answer is what was intended.
Apostrophes are always a problem. The predictive text on my mobile phone finds it very hard to accept that I might ever want to write the word “ill” and insists on changing “David is ill” into the nonsensical “David is I’ll”.
Again thanks to everyone for the interest in the topic. I’ll (I will) try to ensure that the next topic is as gripping.
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration