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APOSTROPHE

It’s a punctuation mark which has three main uses in the English language: to show
possession, make contractions, and form odd plurals.

To show possession
Showing possession with an apostrophe (and often an added “s”) reduces the amount of
words used. We can:

Creating possessive nouns


My car’s tires are all flat. (Singular, indicates the tires of one car)

Carolyn’s house is so nice. (Singular, the house of Carolyn)

When a noun ends with an “s”, either write “’” or “’s” to make it possessive. There is
conflict about this, but some universities use pronunciation as the determining factor. For
example: Perkins’s (Perk-en-sez), boss’s (boss-sez).

NOTE: Use an apostrophe for “it’s” as long as it represents the contracted form of “it is”
and NOT for possession. For example: it’s beautiful (it is beautiful) vs. its color is blue (the
color of it, is blue). (Write the wrong ways).

To indicate individual possession of a noun by more than one person or object, use
an apostrophe with each individual. For example:

Carol’s and Peter’s speeches were the best ones given at the ceremony.

To indicate joint or group possession of a noun, use an apostrophe only with the last
person or object mentioned. For example:

The pilot and co-pilot’s effort to land the plane was successful. (Joint effort)

Creating possessive indefinite pronouns


Indefinite pronouns are nonspecific individuals or groups, and they are expressed in
singular. For example:

Anyone’s car would be suitable.


One’s perspective on life changes with age.

Someone’s car is blocking the entrance.

BUT: Each student’s grade was marked on his or her paper.

To make contractions
Use apostrophes to indicate where letters are left out in a word or combination of words.
For example:

I will = I’ll

They are = they’re

Would not = wouldn’t

Could not = couldn’t

REMEMBER: The contraction “it’s” is never used for the possession of “it”. To
determine whether you need an apostrophe or not, replace the words that make up the contraction
and see if the sentence still makes sense. For example:

It’s going to be a long day. (It is going to be a long day)

The community is working to fix it’s roads. (The community is working to fix it is roads)

In the second case, we should use the possessive adjective “its”.

In many informal occasions, you may find an apostrophe to indicate that one or more
words have been shortened. For example:

I’m goin’ out. (I’m going out).

We’d’ve arrived on time if… (We would have arrived on time if…)

To form odd plurals


Capital letters and abbreviations are pluralized by adding an “s” alone, except if it could
lead to confusion, for example:
I received A’s in all of my classes. (A’s, I’s and U’s are exceptions to just adding an “s”
because they may be confused for the words “As, Is, and Us”).

My neighbor received Bs and Cs. (No apostrophes needed, but add one if they are
combined with letters needing apostrophes. For example: Lucy got A’s and B’s on her exams).

David has two BAs, one in art history and the other one in classical studies.

Whenever you have plural lower-case letters, use the apostrophe and add the “s”. For
example:

Do you remember how many t’s are in the word “commitment”?

Plural and possessive years do need an apostrophe. For example:

1980s’ music was better than today’s. You can also abbreviate it by saying 80s’ music.

Years used as a plural (but not possessive) do not need an apostrophe. For example:

We are past the 1990s. (Plural, but not possessive)

Numbers and symbols used as plurals (but not possessives) do not need an apostrophe.
For example:

How many 10s did you get this trimester?

Acronyms do not need an apostrophe unless they are possessive. For example:

There are two YMCAs in town, and both YMCAs’ swimming pools are open.

If you use another part of the speech as a noun, you will sometimes use an apostrophe
and other times you won’t, it depends on how familiar the expression is. For example:

The haves opened their lunch bags and began munching in front of us have-nots.

A chorus of ah-ha’s filled the classroom as the professor finally solved the equation.

Now, to finish, always remember:

a. “Its” is a possessive adjective and “it’s” is the contracted form of “it is”.
b. Just because a word ends in “s” doesn’t mean it must have an apostrophe. For
example:
The monkey’s monkeys wanted to steal the cookies.
c. Possessive pronouns NEVER use an apostrophe before the final “s”. For example:
Can we borrow some pencils? We forgot our’s ours.
Do not touch that cupcake, its it’s her’s hers.

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