Apostrophes can be used to show possession, to make contractions, and to make plural forms of lowercase letters.
Show PossessionContractionsWith DatesWith Lowercase Letters
- Singular Possession: The apostrophe comes before the (s).
Example: The dog’s bones were under the chair.
The apostrophe is used to show the single dog’s ownership of its bone.
- Plural Possession: The apostrophe comes after the (s).
Example: The dogs’ bones were under the chair.
In this case, the apostrophe shows that multiple dogs own the bones.
- Dual Possession: The apostrophe is only used in the second owner’s name.
Example: Jenny and Dave’s dog was in the house.
Both individuals share ownership of a single dog.
- Separate Possession: Apostrophes are used after each person’s name.
Example: Jenny’s and Dave’s dogs were in the house.
Each individual owns their own dog which they do not share ownership of.
(Dogs) must be plural since each actor owns their own dog.
- Possession for Compound Words: The apostrophe comes after the last word.
Example: My sister-in-law’s car had been stolen.
The apostrophe indicates possession of the car.
- Nouns Ending in (s): In special cases, the apostrophe will come after the (s) to indicate possession.
Examples: scissors’, parents’, girls’, Charles’, James’
Contractions are a combination of two separate words using an apostrophe to replace a letter or letters in order to shorten and simplify the original words. In most cases of formal academic writing, students want to avoid the use of contractions.
Examples of Common Contractions:
Use of Apostrophes With Dates
- An apostrophe is only used when referencing a specific facet of the date.
Example: The 1920’s economy in the United States was growing.
- No apostrophe is used since the decade is not possessing any specific attribute.
Example: The 1920s was a decade of change.
Use of Apostrophes with Lowercase Letters
- An apostrophe followed by an (s) is used to indicate the plural of a lowercase letter
Example: p’s, q’s
- “The Apostrophe Introduction // Purdue Writing Lab”. Purdue Writing Lab.
- Tuten, Nancy. “Possessives: Joint or Separate Ownership”. Get it Write. 9 November 2016.