A quick guide to using apostrophes

Cartoon drawing of an apostrophe

Looks like: (‘)

This little punctuation mark can be used in different ways to convey different meanings:

  1. It can be used to represent missing letters;
  2. It can be used to show that something belongs to someone or something else; or
  3. It can be used to denote periods of time.

Examples where the apostrophe is used instead of letters:

  1. It is not on the table - becomes - It isn’t on the table or It's not on the table
  2. It is really warm today - becomes - It's really warm today
  3. I do not like that - becomes - I don’t like that
  4. I am late - becomes - I’m late
  5. Kim is early - becomes - Kim’s early
  6. I could not find him - becomes - I couldn’t find him.

Examples where the apostrophe is used to show that something belongs to someone or something:

  1. The man’s jacket is on the chair
  2. Kim’s project is one of the best
  3. The group’s work is excellent
  4. Tom’s market stall
  5. Voters’ rights.

Examples where the apostrophe is used to denote time:

  1. In a week’s time
  2. A day’s holiday
  3. Four days’ leave
  4. Three weeks’ notice.

 

Note: It’s is always short for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’.  Where its’ is used as a possessive pronoun (my, his, her, its, etc.) there should not be an apostrophe.  For example:

  1. The cat sat on its mat
  2. The exhibit is in its case
  3. The child is sitting in its favourite chair

 

Jane Thomas

Milton Contact Ltd