Apostrophes

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Apostrophes

  1. Use an apostrophe with an s to form the possessive case of singular nouns and plural nouns not ending in s.
    • the boar's head
    • Mary's lamb
    • men's coats
    • children's shoes
  2. Use an apostrophe without an s to form the possessive of plural nouns ending in s. To form the plural of singular nouns ending in s, use an apostrophe with or without the s (be consistent).
    • soldiers' quarters
    • boys' clothes
    • Charles' banana or Charles's banana
  3. In forming possessives of compound nouns, use the apostrophe according to the logic of the construction.
    • John and Mary's new house (John and Mary have the same house.)
    • Rivers's and Jones's children or Rivers' and Jones' children
  4. Use an apostrophe to indicate the omission of letters in contractions or the omission of digits in numerals.
    • isn't
    • don't
    • the class of '49
  5. Use an apostrophe to indicate the plural of letters, numerals, signs, and words used as such.
    • Dot your i's and cross your t's.
    • His telephone number contains four 8's.
    • He uses too many and's.

FINAL HINT: Test whether or not a word is possessive by making it the object of the preposition of. If the word makes sense in this prepositional phrase, then the word requires an apostrophe.

  • the dog of John = John's dog
  • the spots of the glass = the glass's spots
  • the uniforms of the team = the team's uniforms