Author Advice, Editing Assistance, Grammar Assistant, Manuscript, Publication Ready, Punctuation

#Punctuation #Apostrophe use in #fiction #writing #amwriting #amediting #CreatingPerfection

One of the most commonly misused punctuation marks is the apostrophe.

In this article I’ll be talking about, and sharing examples of, how to correctly use one.

Possession

In writing, we use ‘s to show possession after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns:

the girl’s hair the man’s beard anyone’s guess

For plural nouns ending in s, we just add the apostrophe:

the neighbours’ cat

And we punctuate time periods in the same way:

the days’ takings three weeks’ time

For compounds and of phrases, use ‘s after the last noun:

my mother-in-law’s cake the Queen of England’s swans

The double possessive making use of both of and ‘s can be used with nouns and pronouns:

a play of Shakespeare’s that car of her father’s

But not with buildings or companies:

a friend of the Smiling Mule the window of the hotel

This one’s a little tricky to remember but we don’t use an apostrophe for the possessive its (belonging to it) but we do for the it contractions (it is / it has):

the dog ate its bone it’s too warm today

Omission

The apostrophe is also used to indicate a missing letter or letters from a word. The apostrophe should ‘face’ the way the missing letters should be:

how you doin’ just you wait ’til

Plurals

The apostrophe is NOT used for plurals. Nor is it used for the following:

Decades: 1960s / 60s

Names: keeping up with the Joneses / sixteen Hail Marys

Abbreviations: CDs / ABCs / DVDs

Other: dos and don’ts

These are just a few of the basics and if you learn these rules, you’ll be in a much better position to polish your own manuscript while going through your edits.

I follow the Oxford Style Guide and you can find more information in New Hart’s Rules.

Best of luck, have a great day, and keep writing!

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