Problems with Apostrophes

    It’s and Its

    Who’s and Whose

    They’re, Their, and There

    Would’ve, Could’ve, and Should’ve

    Apostrophes - Power Point Tutorial
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    Test Yourself

    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


    • Singular nouns: To show possession, we add ‘s

    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.)

    • Plural nouns: When there is a plural which ends in an s, add only an apostrophe to show possession.

    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.

    • Do not use an apostrophe to make a noun plural (more than one).

    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.

    • Do not use apostrophes to form the plural of an abbreviation or number.

    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.

    • Do not confuse contractions with similar sounding words:

    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.