How to Use Apostrophes

How to Use Apostrophes

Apostrophes (‘) are a type of punctuation mark that is commonly mistaken by many people. Many of us make mistakes in using the apostrophes correctly. That is why we are going to discuss how to use apostrophes in this article.

An apostrophe basically has three uses. Indicating possession, Forming contractions and odd plurals are the three these functions. Let us look at each of these functions separately.

Apostrophes to Indicate Possession

An apostrophe can be used after a proper noun or a common noun to show possession. This is done by adding an apostrophe followed by the letter s.


Tom’s house, Children’s toy, Car’s owner, Mary’s lamb, Mother’s friend

If you want to make sure the phrase you created is correct, turn the phrase around and make it a phrase with “of”


Car’s owner → owner of the car

Mother’s friend →  Friend of mother

It is important to note that there are some rules to follow when indicating possession with apostrophes.

Add ’s (apostrophe followed by the letter s) to singular proper nouns and common nouns.

Doll’s house

Mary’s sister

Life’s journey

If the common noun or proper noun ends in s, you have two options. You can either add just an apostrophe to the end of the noun or add ’s. Both are considered to be correct.

James’s mother or James’s mother

Enders’ house or Enders’s house

Add ’s to plural forms that do not end in s.

Children’s school

Geese’s feathers

Mice’s tails

Add ’ to plural nouns that end in s.

Friends’ wishes

Countries’ Presidents

Dogs’ barks

One of the most common mistakes related to apostrophes is the confusion between its and it’s. Although ’s is used to show possession, it’s indicates a contraction form; it is the shortened version of it is. Remember that personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, and they) do not use apostrophes to indicate ownership.

Apostrophes should not be also used with possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives since they are already possessive. Apostrophes are mostly used with common nouns and proper nouns to show ownership.

How to use Apostrophes

The dog’s owner took him for a walk.

Apostrophes to Indicate Contraction

Apostrophe can also indicate contractions. Contractions are a word in which some letters have been omitted. The apostrophes indicate these omitted letters. Here are some examples:

It is → It’s

Do not → Don’t

Could have → could’ve

Can not →  can’t

She will →  she’ll

I am → I’m

Apostrophes to Indicate Plurals

Apostrophes can be used to form the plural of simple letters. You have to place ’s after the letter to make it plural. There is no need to use an apostrophe to form the plural of capital letters.


Mind your p’s and q’s.

How many m’s are there in the word commitment?

He got 3As and 2Bs.

We can also use apostrophes to make numbers plural.

He was born in the 60’s.

He passed out in late 90’s.

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