The Correct Use of Apostrophe


Friends, there are some concepts in English Grammer which are very casually used. One of those is apostrophe. Although many people find it tricky to use apostrophes correctly, the easiest way to get them right is to understand why and when they are used. Apostrophes are used in three ways:

To show belonging

Use an apostrophe to show that a thing or person belongs or relates to someone or something (called the possessive); so instead of saying the car of Manoj, or the syllabus of last year, you can write Manoj’s car, and last year’s syllabus.

  • With a noun in the singular or most personal names, add an apostrophe plus: Manoj’s cars, the cat’s paws, last year’s syllabus.
  • For personal names that end in-s, add an apostrophe plus -s when you would pronounce the resulting form with an extra -s: Charles’s house; Dickens’s novels, Thomas’s brother

Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, especially in names of places, for example: St Thomas Hospital.

  • For personal names that end in -s but are not spoken with an extra -s, just add an apostrophe after the-s: Bridges’ poems; Connors’ sister, Herodotus’ writings.
  • With a noun in the plural that already ends in-s, add an apostrophe after the-s: a boys’ school; two weeks’ newspapers; the horses’ stables
  • With a noun in the plural that does not end in-s, add an apostrophe plus -s the children’s coats, men’s clothing.
  • There are some expressions which contain a double possessive. These are formed with nouns relating to people or with personal names: for example, you can say…. He’s a colleague of Vijay’s. Still, we can also say, using both the possessive word ‘of’ and an apostrophe plus -s after  Vijay, or he’s a colleague of Vijay, without the apostrophes-both are correct. The double possessive is not used with nouns referring to an organization: for example, you should say a friend of the Tate Gallery not a friend of the Tate Gallery’s.
  • The only case in which you do not need an apostrophe to show belonging is in the group of words called possessive pronouns: these are the words hers, its, ours, theirs, yours (meaning “belonging to her, it, us, them, or you’)
  • Remember that its means “belonging to it, but Apostrophes it’s (with an apostrophe) is short form of ‘it is’ or it has (always think what meaning you want before writing these words)

To show that letters or numbers have been omitted

  • Use an apostrophe to show that letters have been omitted for example. I’m (short for I am); wasn’t (short for was not), he’ll (short for he will): pick ‘n mix (short for pick and mix)
  • Use an apostrophe to show that numbers have been omitted, especially in dates: for example, the winter of “21 (short for 2021)

To show plurals of letters or numbers

There are some special plurals where an apostrophe should be used, usually so as to make the meaning clear:

  • To show the plurals of letters or numbers, use an apostrophe before the s: there are two p’s in appear, find all the number 7’s
  • Use an apostrophe for showing the plurals of some very short words, especially when they end with a vowel: He was taken aback when the no’s overwhelmed the yeses
  • You should not use an apostrophe for ordinary plurals of nouns such as pizzas, euros, cats, etc. Although in the past people often used to put an apostrophe in plurals of abbreviations such as MP’s, or in dates made up of numbers such as 1990’s, most people now write them without: MPs; 1990s.