- Singular nouns: To show possession, we add ‘s
- Plural nouns: When there is a plural which ends in an s, add only an apostrophe to show possession.
- Do not use an apostrophe to make a noun plural (more than one).
- Do not use apostrophes to form the plural of an abbreviation or number.
- Do not confuse contractions with similar sounding words:
Would’ve, Could’ve, and Should’ve
Apostrophes - Power Point Tutorial
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Apostrophes are used to show omissions in contractions and for possession.
A contraction is used when we join two words, leaving out one or two letters. We put an apostrophe in the place of the missing letter(s):
did not – didn’t
should have – should‘ve
The coat belonging to the girl – the girl‘s coat
The shoes belonging to Kelly – Kelly‘s shoes
This is true even when the singular form ends in s.
The car belonging to Charles - Charles‘s car
The car belongs to Bill Jones - Bill Jones‘s house
(Note: Some instructors say you may drop the possessive s when a singular word happens to end in an s. However, in some contexts dropping the possessive s when the word in singular would be considered wrong. The safer option is to keep the possessive s when a singular noun happens to end in an s.)
The coat belongs to the girls – the girls‘ coats
The house belongs to the Joneses- the Joneses‘ house
For words that are plural but do not end in an s, add ’s.
The rights of women- women‘s rights
The department for children - children‘s department
Problems with apostrophes:
There are some uses of the apostrophe which can be troublesome and confusing.
Incorrect: The dog’s ran in the yard. Correct: The dogs ran in the yard.
Incorrect: These book’s are on sale. Correct: These books are on sale.
Incorrect: MA’s Correct: MAs
Incorrect: in the 1800‘s Correct: in the 1800s
Note: If you are using the years in a century as an adjective, the apostrophe for possession is appropriate, but the rule for possession with plurals ending in s is applied: the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement.
Its and It’s:
It’s is the contraction for it is or it has.
It is a beautiful day. It’s a beautiful day.
It has been nice to know you. It’s been nice to know you.
Use its to show possession: his, hers, theirs, yours, ours, its.
My car needs to have its brakes checked.
Its wheel just came off.
Who’s and Whose:
Who’s is is the contraction for who is.
Who is coming to the party? Who’s coming to the party?
Who is your favorite singer? Who’s your favorite singer?
Use Whose to show possession: his, hers, theirs, yours, ours, its.
Whose car alarm keeps going off? It is his alarm.
Whose music do you like best? I like yours the best.
They’re, Their, and There:
They’re is the contraction for they are.
They are not invited. They’re not invited.
They are on the shelf. They’re on the shelf.
Use their to show possession: his, hers, theirs, yours, ours, its.
They forgot their keys.
Their keys are on the table.
There is a location word. Notice how the word here is in there.
She was always there for me.
Put them over there.
Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve:
These are contractions with the word have. Because the ‘ve sounds like of, many people the mistake of writing would of instead of would’ve.
Incorrect: I would of asked. Correct: I would’ve asked.
Incorrect: He should of gone. Correct: He should’ve gone.
Incorrect: She could of called. Correct: She could’ve called.