Why do we need to use correct punctuation? Because it is absolutely essential to writing and expressing ourselves properly and correctly. Everywhere from the workplace to writing emails, documents and even sending text messages, society will always endeavour to adhere to the social norms, that is, what we perceive to be correct. Correct usage and a basic understanding of the fundamentals of English punctuation concerning; apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, commas, dashes, full stops, questions marks, exclamation marks and quotation marks, will lead to an overall much more fluent, comprehensive and respected English. We should strive to meet the social, academic norms, and withstand from letting ourselves become accustomed to writing in English using incorrect and shabby punctuation. Down below, we’ll elaborate and explain with examples over the basic pillars of punctuation specifically targeting: apostrophes.

Apostrophes (‘) – Possession

We use apostrophes (‘) to indicate possession. The apostrophe goes before or after the possessive (the possessive being an ‘s’) depending on if it is singular or plural. Apostrophe(‘) goes before the ‘s’. (the ‘s’ indicates possession).

Singular nouns

  • I like my mum’s car.
  • Helen’s friend.
  • The machine’s part.
  • Thomas’s pet. *if the noun ends in ‘s’, you need to add another ‘s’. 

Plural nouns

  • It was a four kilometres’ run.
  • It’s the neighbours’ new dog that’s making lots of noise.
  • I found his belongings, but not the other guys’.
  • The students’ bags had been stolen.

To recap, take note that the singular nouns; mum, Helen etc are singular nouns, therefore they take the singular possessive form (‘s). The plural nouns; kilometres, neighbours etc are plural nouns here, therefore, they take the plural possessive form (s’).

Apostrophes (‘) – Contractions

We use apostrophes when we have contractions or missing letters. The apostrophe represents the missing letters of a contracted word put simply.

  • don’t = do not
  • can’t = cannot
  • won’t = will not
  • shan’t = shall not
  • mayn’t = may not
  • needn’t = need not
  • I’d = I would or I had
  • I’m = I am
  • It’s = it is

Apostrophes (‘) – Specialities or new nouns

We use apostrophes with a noun, even if it’s not necessarily a possessive or contracted form, rather it’s more a question of style and aesthetics. Most will use an apostrophe. This can sometimes be quite confusing in English.

  • The do’s and don’t’s of working at my company.
  • The pro’s and con’s.
  • I never make exceptions or if’s.
  • They were born in the 1950’s.
  • The MP’s work for the government.

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