The Rules on Using Apostrophes (Grammar Lesson)
The Quick AnswerApostrophes can be used:
- To replace missing letters (e.g., can't, isn't)
- To show possession (e.g., dog's kennel, dogs' kennel)
- In temporal expressions (e.g., three months' wages)
- To show awkward plurals (e.g., 6's and 7's)
The Rules on When to Use ApostrophesThe rules on using apostrophes can be summarised:
- To replace missing letters aren't
- To show possession Sarah's jumper
- In temporal (or time) expressions 3 months' wages
- To show the plural of an awkward abbreviation, letter or number BUY THREE CD'S.
The dog's toy
The dogs' kennel
A day's leave
2 days' notice
Mind your p's and q's.
Your 5's look like 6's.
The Most Common Mistake with ApostrophesLots of words in English end in the letter s. This happens for one of three reasons:
- It's a plural (e.g., cats, houses, dreams).
- It's a verb ending (e.g., he flies, she bakes, it likes).
- It's a singular noun that ends in s (e.g., Wales, crisis, humous).
- Anteater's prefer termite's to ant's.
- Anteaters prefer termites to ants.
- Pearl's melt in vinegar.
- Pearls melt in vinegar.
- She flie's to New York tomorrow.
- She flies to New York tomorrow.
- Will you see Charle's after this meeting?
- Will you see Charles after this meeting?
- Hire two video's for the price of three.
- Hire two videos for the price of three.
Putting an apostrophe before the s in a plural word is a very common mistake and is considered a grammatical howler.