Sunday, March 21, 2021

3 Tips on Using Apostrophes Correctly

Knowing when and how to use apostrophes can be really confusing at times. The key to using apostrophes correctly is to know when they are needed and for what purpose they are used. 

Here are three reasons to use an apostrophe: 

1.  Use an apostrophe to show that a letter or letters have been left out of a word or that numbers have been left out. 

For example, can’t and ’80. 

Be sure to place the apostrophe in the exact location of the missing letters or numbers. (can’t = can not) (‘80=1980)

2.  Use an apostrophe to show ownership or possession of nouns and indefinite pronouns.

  (Cathy’s car.) (someone’s fault)


The rules to form possessive nouns are simple. 

First, determine if the word you are making possessive in form is singular or plural. 

If the word is singular, add an apostrophe and then an s. (cat’s meow) 

Note: In words of more than one syllable that end in an s-sound, you are permitted to add only the apostrophe to avoid too many s-sounds. (Moses’ tablets) 

If the word is plural, you must first check the spelling of the word before making it possessive. 

If the plural word ends in an ‘s,’ just add the apostrophe. Flowers = flowers’ fragrance 

If the plural word does not end in an ‘s,’ you would add an apostrophe and then an ‘s.’ 

men = men’s wardrobe 

Never add an ‘s’ and then an apostrophe. (s’) 

(Doing so would have made the word plural and possessive.) 


3. Use an apostrophe to make individual letters and numbers plural. For example, there are four s’s and four i’s in Mississippi. There are three 0’s in my phone number. Mind your p's and q's.

You do not use an apostrophe to make a word plural.  

For example, one boy= three boys


Sometimes you need to make a word plural first and then make it possessive. 

Here's an example.


A family named Wilson is having a party. Because there are several members of the family who are having the party, you would make the name plural and then possessive. On the invitation it should read: You are invited to the Wilsons’ Christmas party. 

However, the Wilson family would sign their Christmas cards: The Wilsons. (Note: There is no apostrophe because “Wilsons” is a plural noun but not a possessive noun.) 


Indefinite pronouns refer to something that is not specified.

Singular indefinite pronouns do not end in an “s”. To make an indefinite pronoun possessive, you would add an apostrophe and an ‘s.’ 

anybody = anybody’s guess 

anyone = anyone’s idea

everybody = everybody’s right

somebody = somebody’s idea

nobody = nobody’s business

no one = no one’s business

someone = someone’s house


If you follow these rules, the use of apostrophes becomes easier to understand. I have several resources that address the use of apostrophes and may be helpful for your students.

Practice with Apostrophes BOOM Cards Deck 1 $3.75

Practice with Apostrophes BOOM Cards Deck 2  $3.75

Avoid the Misuse of the Greengrocer's Apostrophe  $3.15

Using Apostrophes Correctly Grammar Worksheets FREE

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