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How to Use an Apostrophe Correctly

By Edited Jun 17, 2016 0 0

Understanding how to use the apostrophe correctly is simple, and will help your writing loo

apostrophe
k  professional. The apostrophe is used in many different ways in the English language, and thus it is helpful to review the rules.

Ownership

Use an apostrophe when you are implying ownership. For example:

The dog's water bowl was empty.

Use an apostrophe after the "s" when you are implying ownership by more than one thing. For example:

The trees' leaves were changing colors.

However, be careful if the word changes when becoming plural (e.g., from woman to women). In those cases, the apostrophe goes before the "s". For example:

The women's restroom was was very noisy.

Use an apostrophe after the last "s" in a plural last name. For example:

The Rosses' house has a brown roof.

Use an apostrophe after an "s" OR after and before an "s" in a first name ending in an "s". For example:

Jeeves' butler uniform was spotless. Jeeves's car was filthy, however.

Plural

apostrophe
Do NOT use an apostrophe to make a word plural. For example:

The United State's has 50 state's that have many different kinds of culture's.

The correct version removes all of those apostrophes:

The United States has 50 states that have many different kinds of cultures.

Do NOT use an apostrophe to make dates plural. For example:

The Cold War lasted from the 1950's to the 1980's.

The correct version removes all of those apostrophes:

The Cold War lasted from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Contractions

Use an apostrophe when creating a contraction out of two words. For example:

I could not go to the movies. --> I couldn't go to the movies.

I can not go to the movies. --> I can't go to the movies.

You are not from around here, are you? --> You're not from around here, are you?

We are not getting a new computer. --> We're not getting a new computer.

We were not planning to stay home for the holidays. --> We weren't planning to stay home for the holidays.

They are happy to be living in San Antonio. --> They're happy to be living in San Antonio.

It is cold inside. --> It's cold inside.

However, do NOT use an apostrophe to indicate possession for "it". For example:

The dog's paws were big. --> NO apostrophe when changing "dog" to "it" --> Its paws were big.

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