Apostrophe (uh-pos-truh-fee)

When do we use them?

Have you ever read a potentially interesting caption but then had to re-read it and work out where the apostrophes should be? 

You see people go on to like, share and comment but you can’t bring yourself to contribute due to the all-important missing punctuation which affects the whole purpose of the post.

Don’t fall into this Grammar Trap.

“Thats Julies email, she ccd the Accounts Department giving two weeks notice for her holidays.”

or

“That’s Julie’s email, she cc’d the Accounts Department giving two weeks’ notice for her holidays.”

When to use an apostrophe:

  1. Contractions – Indicating missing letters
  2. Possessive – Indicating possession
  3. Clarity – Indicating the structure of unusual words
  4. Time – Indicating a period of time
  1. Contractions – Indicating missing letters in the middle of words or phrases. 

We all like to shorten or join words together, so apostrophes are used to show where the missing letters are.  

Example: ‘That’s’ = ‘That is’.  Use the apostrophe to show the missing ‘i’.

Some words that are shortened don’t always need apostrophes. 

Examples: Rd = Road and St = Saint or Street.

2. Possessive Apostrophes – Indicating the possession of the word.

An apostrophe is used before the ‘s’ to show that one thing belongs or is connected to something else. 

Example: Julie’s email – The email belongs to Julie.

If the one possessing the object ends in an ‘s’, for example James, you add an apostrophe and another ‘s’ – James’s book

If it is a plural with an ‘s’, the apostrophe comes after the ‘s’ – The boys’ books (where more than one boy owns the books).

An exception is ‘its’ which we use WITHOUT an apostrophe to signify something belonging to it – The dog wagged its tail.

This is because ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ – It’s a wonderful life.

Not all relationships are possessive so we don’t always need to use an apostrophe.  Example:  Accounts Department – The department does not belong to the accounts.

3. Clarity – To indicate the structure of unusual words.

An apostrophe can be used to show the reader how a word is constructed.

Example: ‘She cc’d’ If this was written as ccd without the apostrophe it could look strange to the reader; we use an apostrophe to show clarity that the cc (carbon copy) was sent.

4. Time – To indicate a period of time.

An apostrophe is used when writing about time.  If the time period is plural (more than one) the apostrophe comes after the ‘s’.  

Example: two weeks’ notice

However, if the time period is singular, the apostrophe goes before the ‘s’.

Example: one week’s notice

When NOT to use an apostrophe:

Plural – Some things are just more than one and simply need an ‘s’ on the end

Example: Holidays, potatoes (note the added ‘e’), beans, CDs, Saturdays.

I hope this has helped you clarify some things about apostrophes! Let me know if any other words or phrases confuse you and I’ll do my best to help.