How to use apostrophes to show possessive, for contractions, s' and 's


Apostrophes can be confusing but there are only 3 ways to use them. This page will explain how to use them in an easy to understand way, and give you some tips to remember how to use them in the future. It will cover using s' and 's, how to use apostrophes for indicate possesion and the words that are possessive without apostrophes, and using S's when talking about singular possessive, plural possessive, word contractions, using apostrophe s when a word ends in s, x or z, and using apostrophes with years.


How to use an apostrophe to indicate possession

An apostrophe is used to indicate possession of an object. Think if you could put "of the" into the sentence, meaning ownership. For instance, "It is the tail of the dog. It is the dog's tail." If you could not use "of the", it is not possessive.

Right: That is the man's hat. (That is the hat of the man.)
Wrong: That is the mans hat.

Right:We could hear the crowd's yelling. (We could hear the yelling of the crowd.)
Wrong: We could hear the crowds yelling.

How to use apostrophes with s: how to tell it it s' or 's

When the word is possesive and singular, put the apostrophe before the s: Use 's
Example: This is that dog's toy. (Refers to 1 dog)
Example: What is the boy's name? (Refers to 1 boy.)

When the word is possesive and plural, put the apostrophe after the s: Use s'
Example: Those are the dogs' toys? (Refers to at least 2 dogs).
Example: What are the boys' names? (Refers to at least 2 boys.)

How to use apostrophe s when a word ends in s

When a word ends in s, x or z and the word is singular and possesive, add an apostrophe and add another s: Use 's
Example: The boss's office. (Refers to the office of 1 boss).
Example: The class's teacher. (Refers to the teacher of 1 class).

* Note that the 's refers to the noun that takes possession, NOT to the item that is possessed.
Example: The boy's toys. (Use should use 's because there is only one boy. The number of toys does not affect the 's.)

When a word ends in s and is plural possessive, make the word plural then add an apostrophe: use s'
Example: The bosses' offices. (Refers to the offices of 2 or more bosses).
Example: The classes' teachers. (Refers to the teachers of 2 or more classes).

* Note that the s' refers to the noun that takes possession, NOT to the item that is possessed.
Example: The bosses's meeting. (Use s' because there are many bosses. The number of meetings does not affect the s'.)

How to use possessive words that do not take an apostrophe

You should not use an apostrophe if a word is already possessive, such as mine, yours, whose, its, his, hers, ours and theirs.
Right: Is this book yours?
Wrong: Is this book your's?

Right: Whose coat do I have?
Wrong: Who's coat do I have?

Right: What is its name?
Wrong: What is it's name?

How to use apostrophe to show a letter has been omitted (not included)

An apostrophe can also be used to show that one or more letters have been left out of a word. This is used frequently for contractions, or when multiple words are merged into one word. Some examples of this are cannot to can't, do not to don't, I am to I'm, she is to she's, you are to you're and it is to it's.
Right: She can't talk right now. (When cannot is used as can't).
Wrong: She cant talk right now.

Right: You're a good friend. (when you are becomes you're).
Wrong: Your a good friend.

Right: I'm busy today. (when I am becomes I'm.)
Wrong: Im busy today.

Sometimes apostrophes are used when making a word shorter, such as in an abbreviation.

Example: Government can be written gov't

Example: International can be writen Int'l

Apostrophes with numbers, letters and years

The apostrophe is used when talking about numbers or letters as multiples, or when talking about years.
Right: Mind your p's and q's.
Wrong: Mind your ps and qs.

Right: How many o's are in the word wood?
Wrong: How many os are in the word wood?

Right: The song was written in the 1970's.
Wrong: The song was written in the 1970s.

More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some information about how to use apostrophes for possessive singular and plural, s' and 's and word contractions. . Check out our main page for more articles here Can U Write.

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