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PUNCTUATION > Apostrophe > Colon > Comma > Dash > Exclamation > Parenthesis > Period > Questionmark > Quotations > Semicolon

Punctuation marks: How to use the APOSTROPHE


How to use the APOSTROPHE The apostrophe ( ' ) is primarily the sign of the possessive case, but it has several other uses.

1) Add an apostrophe only to nouns for the possessive case, not to the pronouns, which have their separate possessive forms.

EX.—My brother's house
EX.—James' father
EX.—Children's games

2) Its is a possessive pronoun.

EX.— Seeing a fact is believing its truth.

EX.—The bird which was in its nest didn't see us.

3) It's is an abbreviation for it is.

EX.—It is raining.

EX.—It's warm outside.

4) Do not use an apostrophe with the possessive adjectives hers, ours, yours, theirs, its.

5) The possessive of one, with the apostrophe, is one's feelings; but itself, oneself.

6) All nouns in the singular and all nouns in the plural except those ending in s take an apostrophe and s to form the possessive. Nouns in the plural ending in s take an apostrophe only to form the possessive.

You will hear different opinions about singular nouns ending in s. To avoid the prolonged hissing sound of another s, do not add an apostrophe s to the singular noun, just the apostrophe.

EX.—Moses' hat, for Moses's hat
EX.—For conscience' sake
EX.—My boss' coffee mug
EX.—James' baseball
EX.—The horses' medication was too costly.

7) The apostrophe indicates the omission of letters in dialect, in familiar dialogue, and in poetry: wasn't, sleep o' nights, it's for it is.

8) You can abbreviate figures expressing dates, but it is better to provide the full date.

EX.—The boys of '71.
EX.—It happened in '98.

The omission of the century in dates, when the century is understood; as, The Fourth of July, '76 is acceptable.

9) The plural of figures and letters:

EX.—"There are three 5's in the number."

EX.—"Your n's and u's are made too much alike."

In forming the plural of figures, you can omit the the apostrophe. In forming the plural of letters, you sometimes need the apostrophe to prevent confusion: i's without the apostrophe would be is, and u's would become us.

10) You do not need an apostrophe when you write the plural of a figure or letter in full:

EX.—"There are three fives in the number."

EX.—"This line is 120 pixels long."

11) Such abbreviations as Dep't, Gov't, Sec'y, and the like, are objectionable in print. If you need to use such abbreviations, then use the forms Dept., Govt., Secy.

12) The plural of a proper name like Henry is not formed with apostrophe and s, but by the addition of s.

EX.—The Henrys live on Elm Street.
EX.—Henrys' (with apostrophe) is the genitive plural of Henry.
EX.—The Henrys' motorcycle was stolen last night.

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PUNCTUATION > Apostrophe > Colon > Comma > Dash > Exclamation > Parenthesis > Period > Questionmark > Quotations > Semicolon