In an age filled with text talk and acronyms it will be refreshing for some to see one young boy championing the correct use of spelling and grammar.

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Far from talking about “lol” (laugh out loud), “l8r” (later) or “rofl” (rolling on the floor laughing), eleven-year-old Matthew Davis took it on himself to record inaccurate examples of the English language while out and about with his family.

From the misspelling of succeeded – spelt “seceded” in one case – to the misuse of apostrophes, Matthew uncovered an array of signs worded by adults.

And it was apostrophes which appeared to cause the biggest headache and were often haphazardly used or omitted.

This included Suffolk brewer Adnams, which talked about “it’s distinct flavour” on one of its signs; an independent shop which wrote “we also stock most vacuum belt’s filter’s bag’s”; and another which described a mini-oven and grill as being “ideal for teen’s bedroom’s”.

A picture from popular ITV show Britain’s Got Talent also showed a singer with a T-shirt apparently asking “where me key’s”.

The Hockwold and Methwold Community High pupil, who was set the challenge in a school assembly, uncovered most of his eight examples in Southwold and Lowestoft during his school holidays.

Matthew, from Thetford, who hopes to work for Nasa when he grows up, said: “There were local shops there which had written signs which seemed to have a lot of mistakes.

“It was mainly in charity shops and ones which were one-of-a-kind with people writing things in the windows. It’s a bit annoying because it’s hypocritical because adults are always telling us to spell right and get our apostrophes right and they’re not doing it themselves.

“I know where apostrophes go and I think they’ve been taught but they’ve forgotten where to put them.”

Hockwold and Methwold Community High School was placed in special measures earlier this year, with inspectors raising concerns including poor literacy levels.

Matthew, whose favourite subject is English, said he found it “frustrating” pupils were being encouraged to improve in this area while others were making mistakes.

“I think it’s quite important because if you’re applying for a job you’d have to get it right to make a good impression on people and have to spell right and check your punctuation,” he said.

“I think it’s important otherwise you might not get the job. Adults are supposed to set an example and if I see a bad spelling or apostrophe in the wrong place I’m a bit surprised because adults should get it right all the time.”

Matthew was awarded two boxes of sweets and a certificate by the school for his efforts.


  • ....Watch this space, he could become Thetford's first astronaut....and even be the first apostrophe expert on Mars!

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    Sunday, April 29, 2012

  • Perhaps Popeye you could read the article again, or better still buy the newspaper copy... It gives a handy do's and don'ts list of where, when and how to use apostrophe's... Trust me, you could learn something! It may also help with your spelling! Whilst doing so, remember he is an eleven year old boy who chose to spend his Easter holidays looking for 'errors' - I would suggest any child who chose to do something like that may end up working for Nasa... Watch this space, he could become Thetford's first astronaut!

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    Saturday, April 28, 2012

  • As far as apostrophes go, my old English teacher said "If in doubt, leave it out ". Looks better not to have one when it should, rather than having one when it should not .

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    crunchy dick

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

  • Well done Matthew, keep up the good work!

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    Saturday, April 28, 2012

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