Apostrophes are one of the most incorrectly used punctuation marks.
Here's a short guide to when (and when not) to use apostrophes:
Personal names and singular nouns
Apostrophes are used to show a thing or person belongs to someone or something.
George's community = the community belonging to George
The cup's handle = the handle belonging to the cup
Today's newspaper = the newspaper belonging to today
Personal names ending in S
If the name ends with S, add an apostrophe and S if you would pronounce the extra S when saying it out loud.
With names where you wouldn't pronounce the second S verbally, just add an apostrophe after the S.
Plural nouns ending in S
When the noun is plural and ends in S, add an apostrophe after the S.
A girls' school
Other plural nouns
When the noun is plural but does not end with S, add an apostrophe and S.
The children's Christmas tree
The Country Women's Association
I'm = I am
she'll = she will
he'd = he had/he would
it's = it is
didn't = did not
can't = cannot
'88 = 1988
It's vs its
it's = it is/it has
It's been a cold winter
It's a good book
its = belonging to it
The cat sharpened its claws
Don't use apostrophes
to show plural forms!
Two exceptions to the rule:
- plurals of single letters = dotting the i's and crossing the t's
- plurals of single numbers = how many number 8's?
Got another grammar question? Contact me and I'll add it to the blog.