Possession, Contraction, Omission, and Other Apostrophe Tips
Similar to the many accents and dialects of the English language, there are many punctuation rules that vary from region to region. Many Expert Authors will follow a style guide, such as APA, Chicago, MLA, The Associate Press, etc. to ensure their writing is consistent and to uphold their credibility. You may choose a particular style based on your audience, your niche, etc. Whatever the style you use, make sure you are consistent throughout your articles.
Which brings us to today’s top punctuation howler: The Apostrophe.
Have you ever walked past an eatery and cringed when you saw the daily menu: “Come on in! Were serving burger’s, frie’s, and salad’s”?
Did it make you think: “Why would you tell me what you were serving? Or is a werewolf taking lunch orders? And what’s with the burger, the fry, and the salad? Are they fighting over possessing some mysterious object?” And then you might think it’s probably best not to go into that eatery for lunch.
If only the owners of the eatery had followed these basic apostrophe tips! Prevent confusion and uphold your credibility by using these apostrophe tips:
The apostrophe is used when indicating ownership. For example:
- Singular Nouns: Fred’s house is around the corner.
- Indefinite Pronouns: That’s someone else’s gum.
- Compound Nouns: The Duchess of Cambridge’s hats are made by a milliner.
- Hyphenated Nouns: Her mother-in-law’s car was due for maintenance.
- Two or More Nouns (Share Possession): Lenny and George’s store is closed.
- Two or More Nouns (Don’t Share Possession): They washed Bob’s and Sue’s pants.
- Plural Nouns (End in S): The gorillas’ habitat has a lot of vegetation.
- Plural Nouns: The children’s toys were all over the floor.
Additional possession and plural tips to bear in mind:
- Don’t use an apostrophe with pronominal possessives: “Are these cupcakes yours, hers, theirs, ours, or its?” she asked as she pointed to the dog.
- Don’t use an apostrophe to show the plural of proper nouns: The Smiths are coming over for dinner.
- Idiomatic or special expressions, e.g. “my heart’s desire,” “a year’s wages,” etc., are often written with an apostrophe s.
In contractions, an apostrophe is used when omitting a letter (or letters). For example:
- “It’s a lovely day.” vs. “It is a lovely day.”
- “Don’t touch the hot stove.” vs. “Do not touch the hot stove.”
- “You’re the wizard?” vs. “You are the wizard?”
- “I should’ve gone to sleep.” vs. “I should have gone to sleep.”
Tip: If you choose to use contractions in your articles, don’t mix and match, e.g. “I could have used contractions in my article, but could’ve, should have, would’ve.”
Omitted Numbers and Letters
When omitting a number from a year, use an apostrophe e.g. “Party like it’s ’99.” vs. “Party like it’s 1999.” An apostrophe is also used when dropping off a letter in a few colloquial dialects as well as in some forms of poetic prose. For example:
- “We’re goin’ (going) ridin’ (riding) and we’ll listen to our good ol’ (old) country ‘n’ (and) western music.”
- “No child o’ (of) mine would steal.”
- “Lest ye be judg’d (judged).”
Use these apostrophe tips to strengthen your writing skills, as well as maintain your credibility as an Expert Author. We will have more punctuation howlers coming up in the next few weeks, so stop by the Blog for the latest and greatest tips to error-free articles.
Did you miss our last edition of Top Punctuation Howlers? Find out more about the period here!