Apostrophe S

I thought I’d write a few words about the apostrophe-s construction.  I observe a range of editorial views on the issue, and I’m not entirely clear why some of them are held.  So here’s my take.

Consider the following extract, perhaps from sone pulp thriller:

“He’s got a gun! He’s going to shoot!”

“Let’s run for it! That gun’s accuracy is only good over short distances”

[Yes, that was a shot you heard during that last long sentence.  C’mon – it’s fake pulp.]

There are four examples of “‘s” in those two lines, which I presume were negotiated seamlessly.

“He HAS got a gun! He IS going to shoot!”

“Let US run for it! That gun HAS AN accuracy THAT is only good over short distances”

The usual use of apostrophe-s is to blur the distinction between HAS and IS, often as a link-word.  The structure of the clue would be:

[Definition] HAS [wordplay]

(naturally, the puzzle I have to hand has not a single example in it, dammit)

with the surface reading of the clue inclining towards the IS (or, less often, the possessive).  Given the seamlessness above, this sort of misdirection seems fine to me.

The US interpretation remains underused.  It always catches me out when it does occur, and I never remember it when I’m writing clues myself!  Nevertheless apostrophe-s strikes me as an example of everyday usage that people are surprised by when required to look at it more closely.  As such, it should be in the armoury of the clue-writer.

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