Apostrophes are hard-working little punctuation marks that can indicate a number of different Use an apostrophe + s to show possession for singular nouns.
Mistakes with apostrophes to show possession are very common. One reason for this is the number of exceptions to the rules above. For example, plural words which do not end in the letter s (e.g., men, people, children) take the apostrophe before the s when showing possession.
Apostrophes serve two basic functions; they show possession and indicate Use an apostrophe after the "s" at the end of a plural noun to show possession.
Many people make grammar mistakes either by missing the apostrophe or misplacing it. In English there are many punctuations marks each with different uses and an apostrophe is one of them. We shall discuss what an apostrophe is and get to know its uses and importance. Before we continue, we first need to know what an apostrophe is.
Apostrophe definition: this is a punctuation mark (‘) used to show either contractions in place of missing words (e.g. didn’t, won’t, can’t) or to show possession (peter’s car, John’s, boys’ toys).
Many times, the apostrophe is either misused or misunderstood. When an apostrophe is misplaced or is missing it can alter the meaning of the sentence or the sentence can make no meaning at all. This is because many people fail to understand what an apostrophe does.
Apostrophes are used for two major reasons that is:
Apostrophes help one to make their writing clear and precise. When apostrophes are used correctly it brings out the intended meaning.
Apostrophes are used to show the possessive form of nouns. They show that an object belongs to the noun. The possessive form is obtained by adding “s” after an apostrophe. The position of the apostrophe varies for singular and plural nouns.
This is to avoid the confusion brought about when using “its” to show possession and “it’s” to show contraction of “it is”. At times one is not used whether to use an apostrophe or not. In such a case try constructing a sentence with “it has” or “it is”. Drop the apostrophe if the sentence does not make any sense.
An apostrophe is only used in a year if it is in place of omitted numbers. For example, if one needs to write a shorter form of the year 2002, you can write’02. In such a case it serves as shorthand and the apostrophe acts like it does in the case of contraction.
When using apostrophes to show possession, there are a few apostrophe rules to be followed to avoid confusion and use of apostrophe where they aren’t needed.
In informal writing, apostrophes are used to show missing letters. The missing letters can be one or more. For instance, the word ‘wouldn’t’ is the short form of “would not”; other examples include “don’t,”- “do not” “can’t,”- “cannot” “isn’t,”- “is not” “shouldn’t,”-“should not.”
Verbs such as is, has, have can also be contracted. For instance, “they have been reading the whole afternoon.” Can be written as “they’ve been reading the whole afternoon”; “she’s a new school bag” instead of “she has a new school bag.”
Another mistake commonly made in contraction is the contraction of people’s names. For instance, if you write john’s as a contraction of “John is,” is not correct. “John’s” is possessive and not a contraction.
However, it is correct to use contraction for pronouns such as “she’s” or “he’s” which stands for “she is” and “he is” respectively.
When using an apostrophe for contraction, there is one apostrophe rule to be followed.
Just like other punctuation marks such as comma, full stop, etc. are used in sentences, apostrophe too can be used in one way or another in sentence construction. Depending on how the apostrophe has been used in a sentence it will always bring out a different meaning. Be careful not to misuse or misplace an apostrophe.
In the sentences below, we are going to look at the different examples of an apostrophe in sentences.
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Personal pronouns are sometimes combined with the verb “to be,” “will,” “have,” “would,” and “had.” The way the contraction is formed may vary from pronoun to pronoun. The table below will help one understand how to form personal pronoun contraction and hence apply them in sentences.
|pronoun||+will||+to be||+ have/has||+ would/had|
From the table above, we can form sentences using personal pronoun contraction.
When forming contraction for a negative form of certain verbs’ apostrophes are useful too. The table below will help one know how to form verb contraction and thereby apply them in sentences.
|Regular verb||Verb + negative||contraction|
From the above table, we know how to form contraction of verbs and hence can use them in sentences.
Examples in sentences include:
possession by a singular noun.
in writing, we use apostrophes before “s” to show possession of singular nouns.
Examples in sentences include:
Nouns, in their plural form, end with an “s” or “es”. In English adding an apostrophe the “s’” after an “s” may seem a bit awkward. Hence in cases of plural nouns, we just add an apostrophe after the “s”.
Examples in sentences include:
People tend to make mistakes with apostrophes when it comes to forming plurals. When forming plurals of nouns an apostrophe is not needed. The plural is formed by either adding an “s” or “es” depending on the noun. An apostrophe is added to the plural only when showing possession i.e. when showing that the objects in question belong to the nouns being talked about.
Am certain that with this guide you are now set to use apostrophe in the right way without making mistakes. It is now your role to practice on the mentioned apostrophe uses so as to perfect your language.
Apostrophes can be tricky. Sometimes they form possessives. Sometimes they form contractions. Can they ever make something plural?
A contraction is a shortened form of a word (or group of words) that omits certain letters or sounds. In a contraction, an apostrophe represents missing letters. The most common contractions are made up of verbs, auxiliaries, or modals attached to other words: He would=He’d. I have=I’ve. They are=They’re. You cannot=You can’t.
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Some writers use less common contractions when they want to represent a particular style of speech. They might write somethin’ to represent the way people often don’t pronounce the final g of “something” in speech. Occasionally, you might see e’er (instead of ever) in poetry. And, of course, in the American South, you will probably encounter y’all (you all). Decade names are often contracted as well: the ’60s (the 1960s).
|-n’t||not||Isn’t (is not), hasn’t (has not)|
|-‘re||are||They’re (they are), we’re (we are), you’re (you are)|
|-‘d||had, would||She’d (she had, she would), I’d (I had, I would)|
|-‘ll||will||We’ll (we will), you’ll (you will)|
|-‘s||is||He’s (he is), it’s (it is)|
Contractions are usually considered to be relatively casual. If you’re writing something very formal, you may want to avoid using them except in cases like o’clock, where the full phrase (of the clock) truly is rare.
The rules about forming possessives probably cause the most apostrophe confusion. They vary a little bit, depending on what type of noun you are making into a possessive. Here are the rules of thumb:
For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:
For most plural nouns, add only an apostrophe:
For plural nouns that do not end in s, add apostrophe+s:
Style guides vary in their recommendations of what to do when you have a singular proper noun that ends in s. Some recommend adding only an apostrophe:
Others say to add apostrophe+s:
No matter which style guide you use, add only the apostrophe to plural proper nouns that end in s:
Use whichever style matches the style guide you use for your writing. If you don’t have a style guide, it’s OK to just pick one of the methods, as long as you don’t switch back and forth within the same document.
Personal pronouns, unlike regular nouns, do not use apostrophes to form possessives. Most writers don’t have trouble with the possessive pronouns my, mine, his, her, and our. It’s your, yours, hers, its, ours, their, and theirs, that tend to cause the confusion. The relative possessive pronoun whose is also frequently the victim of apostrophe abuse. Note that none of these forms uses an apostrophe. In fact, for some of these pronouns, adding an apostrophe forms a contraction instead of a possessive (see the table above).
|Pronoun||Possessive Pronoun||Absolute (Independent) Form|
What do you do with the apostrophe when you’re talking about things that belong to more than one person? When one thing belongs to two or more people, make only the final name possessive:
When you’re talking about separate things that belong to different people, make all the names possessive:
Using possessive personal pronouns in joint constructions often sounds awkward (You have their and my gratitude). Usually, the best solution is to rephrase the sentence to avoid the joint construction (You have our gratitude or You have their gratitude and mine).
Using an unnecessary apostrophe to form the plural of a noun is a very common mistake. Sometimes, it’s called the grocer’s apostrophe because of how frequently it is spotted in grocery store advertisements (3 orange’s for a dollar!). Don’t do it! With very few exceptions, apostrophes do not make nouns plural.
The one notable exception to this rule is the plural form of lowercase letters, which are formed with an apostrophe to prevent misreading:
An apostrophe is part of the word it belongs to, so it should not be separated from the word by periods, commas, question marks, or any other punctuation mark.
In the second example, take note of the apostrophe at the beginning of ’Twas. Apostrophes that fall at the very beginning of a contraction are often mistyped as left-hand single quotation marks. Word processors tend to do this by default. Keep this in mind, especially when you are writing about specific decades, such as the ’60s or the ’90s.
Sooner or later, you’ll come across a phrase that sounds fine out loud but looks weird on paper because of the apostrophes. Do’s and don’ts? Dos and don’ts? Do’s and don’t’s? For cases like these, it’s best to check a comprehensive style guide, such as the Chicago Manual or the AP Stylebook (it’s do’s and don’ts, according to the AP). A good dictionary may also be able to offer you some guidance. If you can’t find a precedent, it’s probably best to use a different word or phrase; overly creative apostrophe use will inevitably distract your readers.
writing, words that use apostrophes for missing letters (i.e. contractions and IS A CONTRACTION OR SHOWS POSSESSION, USE AN APOSTROPHE S e.g.
Are you uncertain about when to use an apostrophe? Many people have difficulty with this punctuation mark. The best way to get apostrophes right is to understand when and why they are used. There are two main cases – click on the links below to find straightforward guidance:
People are often unsure about whether they should use its (without an apostrophe) or it’s (with an apostrophe). For information about this, you can go straight to the section it's or its?
You use an apostrophe to show that a thing or person belongs or relates to someone or something: instead of saying the party of Ben or the weather of yesterday, you can write Ben’s party and yesterday’s weather.
Here are the main guidelines for using apostrophes to show possession:
With a singular noun or most personal names: add an apostrophe plus s:
We met at Ben’s party.
The dog’s tail wagged rapidly.
Yesterday’s weather was dreadful.
With personal names that end in -s: add an apostrophe plus s when you would naturally pronounce an extra s if you said the word out loud:
He joined Charles’s army in 1642.
Dickens's novels provide a wonderful insight into Victorian England.
Thomas's brother was injured in the accident.
Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, especially in names of places or organizations, for example:
St Thomas’ Hospital
If you aren’t sure about how to spell a name, look it up in an official place such as the organization’s website.
With personal names that end in -s but are not spoken with an extra s: just add an apostrophe after the -s:
The court dismissed Bridges' appeal.
Connors' finest performance was in 1991.
With a plural noun that already ends in -s: add an apostrophe after the s:
The mansion was converted into a girls’ school.
The work is due to start in two weeks’ time.
My duties included cleaning out the horses’ stables.
With a plural noun that doesn’t end in –s: add an apostrophe plus s:
The children’s father came round to see me.
He employs 14 people at his men’s clothing store.
The only cases in which you do not need an apostrophe to show belonging is in the group of words called possessive pronouns - these are the words his, hers, ours, yours, theirs (meaning ‘belonging to him, her, us, you, or them’) - and with the possessive determiners. These are the words his, hers, its, our, your, their (meaning 'belonging to or associated with him, her, it, us, you, or them'). See also it's or its?
An apostrophe can be used to show that letters or numbers have been omitted. Here are some examples of apostrophes that indicate missing letters:
I’m - short for I am
he’ll - short for he will
she’d– short for she hador she would
pick ’n’ mix - short for pick and mix
it’s hot - short for it is hot
didn’t - short for did not
It also shows that numbers have been omitted, especially in dates, e.g. the Berlin Wall came down in the autumn of ’89 (short for 1989).
These two words can cause a lot of confusion: many people are uncertain about whether or not to use an apostrophe. These are the rules to remember:
The dog wagged its tail.
Each case is judged on its own merits.
It’s been a long day.
It’s cold outside.
It’s a comfortable car and it’s got some great gadgets.
The general rule is that you should not use an apostrophe to form the plurals of nouns, abbreviations, or dates made up of numbers: just add -s (or -es, if the noun in question forms its plural with -es). For example:
|euro||euros||(e.g. The cost of the trip is 570 euros.)|
|pizza||pizzas||(e.g. Traditional Italian pizzas are thin and crisp.)|
|apple||apples||(e.g. She buys big bags of organic apples and carrots.)|
|MP||MPs||(e.g. Local MPs are divided on this issue.)|
|1990||1990s||(e.g. The situation was different in the 1990s.)|
It's very important to remember this grammatical rule.
There are one or two cases in which it is acceptable to use an apostrophe to form a plural, purely for the sake of clarity:
I've dotted the i's and crossed the t's.
Find all the p's in appear.
Find all the number 7’s.
These are the only cases in which it is generally considered acceptable to use an apostrophe to form plurals: remember that an apostrophe should never be used to form the plural of ordinary nouns, names, abbreviations, or numerical dates.
You can read more rules and guidelines about apostrophes on the Oxford Dictionaries blog. Here you will find further examples of correct and incorrect use of apostrophes.
Back to punctuation.
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You can use an apostrophe to show possession. Find out more in this Bitesize Primary KS2 English guide.