English Language Class: Between Am tired and I’m tired

Between Am tired and I’m tired

Akeem Lasisi; lasisienglish@gmail.com; 08163939335

An apostrophe performs several functions in English language. It can show possession, as we have in This is the tailor’s house, telling us whose house it is. Often, when a noun is singular, the apostrophe comes before the s (tailor’s); but when it is plural, it comes after it, as we have in The tailors’ cars are wrongly parked. Another example is, “They have replaced the boys’ chairs.”

One other major function of an apostrophe is that it shows that letters and numbers have been omitted in certain expressions. This is what obtains in isn’t, don’t and didn’t. Some of the terms usually so contracted are, however, too intriguing to handle for many of us. We are focusing on such today.

What do you think about the following statements?

Am 30 years old.

A’m 30 years old.

I’am 30 years old.

I’m 30 years’ old.

I’m 30 years old.

Of all the five, it is only one that is correct. That is the last: I’m 30 years old. In the clause, the use of the apostrophe between I and am shows that a letter has been omitted; that omitted item is the a before m in am. Unfortunately, this is often confused with Am, when people say Am here. This is a wrong expression that you should shun whether in conventional writing or social media conversation.

Using Am instead of ‘I’m’ implies that you do not understand the principle behind the shortening of the original expression. In Am, you are not properly indicating the letter omitted. It is not I that is omitted, it is the a in am. So, the apostrophe is used to bring I and m together:

I am tired. (Correct)

Am tired. (Wrong)

I’m tired. (Correct)

Between his and he’s

Using his and he’s can also be problematic. The first – his – is a pronoun, a possessive pronoun that does not require an apostrophe, as we rightly have in This is his car, meaning the car belongs to him and not to any other person. You need not add any other item to this, just as you do not add an apostrophe to her, their, its and my. Or would you feel comfortable saying or writing, This is her’s house?

On the other hand, he’s comes with an apostrophe because there is an omission. The i before s (is) is deliberately thrown out. To indicate this, an apostrophe is needed:

He is trying to repair the table. (Correct)

He’s trying to repair the table. (Correct)

His trying to repair the table. (Wrong)

His trying to repair the table is ridiculous. (Correct)

Also, note that ‘he’s’ can also mean ‘he has’, depending on the context:

He has gone. (Correct)

He’s gone. (Correct)

Similarly, she’s and it’s’ can work with both the present tense and present participle:

She is here. (Correct)

She’s here. (Correct)

She has arrived. (Correct)

She’s arrived. (Correct)

It is here (Correct)

It’s here. (Correct)

It has finished.

It’s finished. (Correct)

Of course, ‘she’d’ can also mean ‘she had’ and ‘she would’:

She had gone before the policeman arrived. (Correct)

She’d gone before the policemen arrived. (Correct)

I thought she would sign the memo before leaving. (Correct)

I thought she’d sign the memo before leaving. (Correct)

Answers to last week’s assignment

He was suspended … that he disobeyed the MD’s directive.
(a) because of the ground (d) due to the ground (c) ON

THE GROUNDS (d) on the ground

We need … united country.
(a)A (b) an (c) very (d) more

I can’t quote the statistics …
(a) OFF HAND (b) off handed (c) off head (d) off heads

Homework

Dele … finished cleaning the table when the visitors
arrived.

(a) haven’t (b) hasn’t (c) had’nt (d) hadn’t

I have noted your request. But … not what I can do now.
(a) is (b) its (c) it’s (d) it

Many people were amazed when Messi dribbled … all the
defenders.

(a)past (b) pass (c) passed (d) pushed

Credit: The Punch

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