Your correspondent Paul Dawson wants to abolish the apostrophe, saying it is useless (Letters, 8 September). So after a house collapses, killing almost a whole family, Mr Dawson would report a young survivor as saying: "The bodies were so covered in grime, that I couldnt tell my sisters from my brothers". Does this mean "my sisters' from my brothers'"; "my sister's from my brother's"; "my sisters' from my brother's" or "my sister's from my brothers'"? Without apostrophes, we confuse adjectives and nouns.
Someone once told me never to put a comma before the word "and". Later I found a passage in a cookery book which read: "Now, for exactly 12 minutes, boil the carrots and your husband", at which point one had to turn the page, to find "will enjoy the best vegetarian dish he's ever tasted". But the damage has been done. You have to switch tracks from boiling husbands, to husbandly approval. And this, like nil apostrophes, is bad semantics.