Tips on using the apostrophe

Mistakes are often made by people who don’t really know how to use an apostrophe ( ), so here is an explanation of its use.

The apostrophe is used in 3 situations.

1.  It’s used to indicate possession.  Put s after the name or word that possesses.

Pauls parents are visiting for the holidays.
The Johnstons house is three kilometers out of town.

Note:  If a name ends in an s, then add s.

The Joness boat sank off the coast of Panama.  [When saying the name, you actually say 2 s’s]
We going for dinner at the Harriss.

The one exception for possession is the word its.  This possessive word has no apostrophe because it’s is the contraction for it is.

I only have one shoe.  Where is its mate?
I don’t like this room.  Its color is terrible.

But if a word is plural and ends in an s, then just add an apostrophe without another s.

She lived at her parents house while she was going to university.
Both of her sisters boyfriends are doctors.

2.  It’s used to show that a letter has been dropped in a contraction.

They arent coming to our party.  [arent = are not]
Dont forget to lock the door behind you.  [dont = do not]

Sometimes you will see words that have an apostrophe in place of the g in -ing because that’s how people really pronounce it.  However, this is only done in informal writing or when quoting someone.

“Would you like to go dancin tonight, sweetheart?”

Note:  The word o’clock always has an apostrophe.

The movie starts at six oclock.  [In very old English this word was the contraction of of the clock.]

3.  It’s used to make numbers and letters plural.

Her son got three As and two Bs on his report card.
There were a lot of 10s and 20s in the cash register.

But don’t use it after years.

In the 1990s personal computers became popular.
This building dates from the early 1900s.

© 2013 Ambien Malecot