Re: Use of Apostrophe

Subject: Re: Use of Apostrophe
From: Scott McClare <smcclare -at- DY4 -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 09:07:37 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: M S Dattatreya [SMTP:datta -at- WIPINFO -dot- SOFT -dot- NET]
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 1998 12:02 AM
Subject: Use of Apostrophe

>This question is about the use of Apostrophe.
>How do you read the following sentence:
>What's it really cost?
>Is it:
>* What is it really cost?
> This, I guess, is faulty construction.
>* What does it really cost?
> If yes, Can "What's" be used interchangeably to mean:
> What is and What does.
>Can somebody clarify?

In *spoken* English, "what's" can mean "what is" ("what's the weather
like?"), "what does" ("what's it really cost?"), or "what has" ("What's
he done THIS time?"). English speakers usually are able to tell which
form of "what's" is being used from the context. Of course, we're
allowed to "get away" with a lot more in speech than writing. In
written English, "what's" is usually limited to the "what is" meaning
(unless, of course, you are writing a story where you have to represent
spoken words).

For technical writing, however, "what's" and other contractions might be
considered too informal, and you might want to just write out "what is,"
"what does," or "what has" in full. Though YMMV.

Take care,


Scott McClare - Technical Writer
DY 4 Systems Inc.
(613) 599-9199 x502 smcclare -at- dy4 -dot- com
Opinions are my own

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