How to use apostrophes

It’s one of the easiest mistakes to make in English. So when should you use an apostrophe?

It irks me when I see people use the apostrophe incorrectly because it’s so simple to get right. You only have to remember a few things. Take a look below.

Meet the apostrophe

Question 1: Is it indicating ownership?
If it does, use an apostrophe.

An apostrophe indicates ownership (or in grammar talk, the possessive case). For example: Ben’s blog, the chicken’s egg or the apostrophe’s uses.

Question 2: Is it a contraction?
If it is, use an apostrophe.

An apostrophe shows where letters have been omitted to form a contraction. For example: can’t (can not), don’t (do not), wasn’t (was not), shouldn’t (should not) or doesn’t (does not).

Question 3: Is it “it’s” or “its”?
Are you trying to say “it is” or “it has”? If you are, then use an apostrophe (“it’s”) because it’s a contraction.

The word “its” means belonging to or associating with. For example: this blog and its readers or the building fell onto its side.

Question 4: Is it a plural?
If it is, don’t use an apostrophe.

You don’t need to use an apostrophe to indicate plurality. Just add the s. For example: it’s raining cats and dogs.

Exception: one letter words. For example: dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

Question 5: Can you have “~s’s”?
I would omit the “s” after the apostrophe in that case.

For example: companies’s > companies’ (possession of the plural), campus’s > campus’, James’s > James’ (possession of words ending with “s”)

That’s it. You should now be an expert at using apostrophes. If you remember the five things above, you’ll have no problems!


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