Ways & How

how to use apostrophes correctly

how to use apostrophes correctly

Rules on the use of apostrophes in written English, like other punctuations, have been violated by ill-equipped and mis-informed writers. Learning how to use apostrophes correctly is essential in all kinds of writing. The use of correct punctuations is one proof of a well-written essay. Observe the following basic rules in using apostrophes:

  1. Use an apostrophe to show possessiveness of singular and mostly plural nouns.

    Put an apostrophe next to the noun and add an –s (i.e. lady’s wallet). When the singular noun ends in s, you may add an apostrophe and an –s (i.e. the Boss’s room).  When the plural noun ends in s, you may just add an apostrophe after the s (i.e. the boys’ toys). When two or more nouns possess the same thing, put an apostrophe and add –s to the last noun (i.e. Romeo and Juliet’s favorite spot).

    Remember that the apostrophe is placed after the noun or pronoun possessing something. We use the apostrophe to restate a phrase that shows possession.



    tance, the phrase “the son of John” can be restated as “John’s son

  2. Use an apostrophe to indicate missing letters in a contraction.

    Words in English are usually contracted in informal spoken and written discourse. We usually put an apostrophe for contracted verb phrases like: I’ll for I will; can’t for cannot; shouldn’t  for should not; won’t for will not. The apostrophe is placed after the pronoun subject and between the contracted verb. For verbs with contracted negations, the apostrophe is placed between letters n and t.

  3. Use an apostrophe to show plural forms of certain letters and expressions.

    To avoid confusion, we use an apostrophe to pluralize letters and certain expressions. For example, to mean that there is a lot of the letter q, we write q’s. So several r letters could be written as r’s. In most instances, we also use an apostrophe in expressions like “do’s and don’ts” or “cc’d”.

  4. Use an apostrophe to show relationship of a part to a whole.

    Sometimes, an apostrophe is use not because there is a possessive connection but just to show that something is part of something. For instance we say, “Table’s legs” to mean the legs of the table. This, however, should be used sparingly and with careful consideration of context.

    Do not use an apostrophe on:

    Possessive pronouns

    Possessive pronouns shouldn’t be used with an apostrophe as they already show possession. We say the car is yours, not the car is your’s  or the gift is hers, not the gift is her’s. However, some indefinite pronouns like anybody, one and somebody may take apostrophes followed by an –s to show possession (everybody’s bet, nobody’s pet, everyone’s game).

    Forming plural nouns

    When forming plural forms of nouns, we usually add an -s or -es or change the spelling of the word. When plural nouns are formed with -s or -es, there is no need for an apostrophe, unless we want to show possession of the plural noun or if the plural noun is part of a whole.

Be careful not to use apostrophes where they shouldn’t be and use them where they should be. Avoid errors in punctuation by learning how to write apostrophe correctly.

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