When to Use an Apostrophe

When to Use an Apostrophe

Hey guys! Welcome to this video on the apostrophe. The apostrophe gets wildly misused, and always has. Poor guy.

In order to help you to not misuse our friend the apostrophe, let’s go over the three the main uses: contractions, plurals, and possessives.

First let’s take a look at contractions. Contractions such as he’s, wouldn’t, didn’t and so on. Contractions are sometimes looked down on. Some would say that they should never be included when writing formally. Maybe, maybe not. However, you should be sure to check the requirements for whatever if you are writing for a teacher, professor, or even publisher. On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that using contractions can make your writing feel more person. It can help your audience to feel like you are talking to them, and not talking at them.

You always use an apostrophe when working with contractions. Possibly the most confusing, due to it being to most common apostrophe error, is It’s. Again, always use an apostrophe when you have a contraction. So, you use an apostrophe when you are abbreviating “it is” or, “it has” to it’s. Always. If you don’t use an apostrophe, than you have changed the meaning of what you are saying. The “its” without an apostrophe symbolizes ownership.

Here is an example of the contraction “it’s” in a sentence: It’s so pretty outside today.

Also, when you are abbreviating the year something took place to the last two digits, this would be considered a contraction. So, you need an apostrophe. The apostrophe is placed to the front of the two digits. Now, in formal writing you will, typically, be expected to write out the whole year. Some examples would be class of ‘78, “It Was Acceptable in The ‘80s.”

Secondly, Plurals. You will rarely use an apostrophe for a plural noun. Now, remember, we talked about this reason already. Using an apostrophe on a noun signifies ownership of something, but If you are just trying to imply that there are multiples of something then you would not use an apostrophe. Let’s look at an incorrect example, and a correct example.

Incorrect: In the early 1970’s, both of the Johnson’s earned PhD’s.
Correct: In the early 1970s, both of the Johnsons earned PhDs.

Now, keep in mind that I said that it is rare, but there is always that one exception to the rule. The exception to this rule is when a contractions is used as a noun.

He received four A’s and two B’s.

Example: Have we received more yes’s or no’s?

Thirdly, possessives. It’s important to note that there is some variation when it comes rules on possessives, depending on who has the authority. For instance, when writing for a newspaper or other types of media there may be some variation, but generally the rules are pretty consistent everywhere else.

Now, let’s take a look at what the possessive rule is. The rule goes like this: When you have a singular noun that is signifying possession, then an apostrophe and an “s” need to follow it. Even if the singular noun already ends in s.

The doctor’s bill
The kid’s shoe
Bob Carl’s number one hit
The class’s theme

However, when showing possession of a plural noun that already ends in an s, then you would just add an apostrophe and not the extra s, but if the plural noun does not already end in s then you would add an apostrophe followed by an s.

Mr. Thomas’ new car
The three actresses’ scripts

Again, there is always the exception to the rule. So, let’s take a look at those.

Use an apostrophe when dealing with specifically singular places and names that make a plural ending AND end in s. That was a lot, let me say that again: Use just an apostrophe when dealing with specifically singular places and names that make a plural ending AND end in s.

Hopefully some examples will help to clear up any remaining confusion.

Beverly Hills’ industrial layout
The United States’ political model
Efficient Systems’ owner

I hope that this video was helpful. If you enjoyed this video then be sure to hit that like button and for further videos subscribe.

See you guys next time.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: February 5, 2021