The apostrophe is undoubtedly one of the most confused punctuation marks in the English language. If you face any difficulites with this particular grammar structure, please read our guidelines below on how to use the apostrophe properly.
We mainly use the apostrophe for two reasons:
- To show possession (when we show who owns something or has a close relationship with something)
- To show contraction (when two words have been connected to make one shorter word)
Apostrophe showing possession (possessive ‘s)
We use the ‘s structure as a determiner to show that a person or a thing belongs or relates to someone or something, for example:
- That’s my friend’s apartament.
- Noelia’s sister is a journalist.
- Alejandro’s hair is very long.
Here are some rules for using the apostrophe to show possession:
- We use ’s after a singular noun and ’ after a plural noun.
- We also use possessive ‘s with irregular nouns, such as children, mice, people, women, etc., for example: This is my children’s bedroom.
- We can use two ’s constructions in the same sentence: I went to Kate’s sister’s birthday on Friday.
- We use possessive ‘s when we talk about the time and duration: Is that today’s newspaper?
- With compound nouns (nouns made up of two or more words), we add ’s to the final noun: My brother-in-law’s bike is broken.
The rules for the pronunciation of a noun with ’s are the same as the rules for pronunciation of plural forms of nouns.
Apostrophe showing contraction
The apostrophe replace letters in contracted forms, for instance:
- We use ‘s for has and is:
- He’s never been to Holland before. (has)
- She’s taller than me. (is)
- We use ‘d for had and would:
- We moved to Spain after she’d finished her studies. (had)
- I’d love to travel to Vietnam. (would)