- The dog's collar was blue.
The Apostrophe has two important jobs: it shows possession, or ownership, and it stands in for letters that have been removed from words when a contraction is made. It's important to know how to use the apostrophe correctly. People make mistakes all the time!
Rules for using the Apostrophe
Rule 1: Use an apostrophe to show that someone or something owns something (possession).
If something belongs to a singular noun that does not end in "s," use an apostrophe before an "s" plus the letter "s" after the noun when writing about it:
- My teacher's jacket was on the hook.
- David's mother bakes delicious cookies.
If something belongs to a singular noun that ends in "s" (boss), use an apostrophe plus the letter "s" after the noun:
- That is my boss's office.
- Mr. Jones's car is parked under the tree.
Exception: Do not add "s" after the apostrophe for the singular nouns ending in "s" if their end sound is "iz" or "ziz."
For instance, "Jesus(iz) teachings," or "Sophocles(iz) philosophy" would fall into this category.
Therefore, we write:
- Jesus' teachings
- Sophocles' philosophy
If something belongs to a plural noun that does not end in "s" (men), use an apostrophe before an "s" plus the letter "s" after the noun:
- The children's books were on the shelf.
- The men's room is over there.
- The geese's flight was long.
If something belongs to a plural noun that ends in "s" (horses), simply add the apostrophe after the final "s":
- The horses' saddles were made of leather.
- The students' homework was on time.
- My parents' room is upstairs.
If something belongs to a compound noun, add an apostrophe plus "s" at the end of the word.
- Her sister-in-law's husband is a doctor.
- Maids of honor's dresses were of pink color.
If two people own same thing, put the apostrophe plus "s" after the second name only.
- Edward and Jacob's house is very pretty.
If two people own the separate things, put the apostrophe plus "s" after both names.
- Edward's and Jacob's houses are both pretty.
Rule 2: Use an apostrophe to take the place of the letters you have removed when you join two words in a contraction.
- I should not go to the movies today. I shouldn't go to the movies today.
- He did not eat his pancakes.
He didn't eat his pancakes.
- Abby was not enjoying the game. Abby wasn't enjoying the game.
Rule 3: To make numbers and letters plural, use an apostrophe with an "s."
- My dad grew up in the 60's.
- I spell my name with two t's.
- I wrote ten m's to practice my writing.
Rule 4: When two digits of a year are dropped, use an apostrophe to take their place.
- My brother was born in '99.
- "The Summer of '69" was a popular song.
- I am a member of the Class of '16.
Rule 5: Do NOT use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns. The only exception to this rule is one's.
- That book is hers.
- The new car was theirs.
- One should use one's own crayons.
Rule 6: Do NOT use an apostrophe in the plural of a name to make a singular name plural. Simply add "s" to make it plural.
- The Smiths came to the house this afternoon.
- The Harrisons threw a party.
The handy chart below helps remember the rules and uses of the apostrophe.