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.
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
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
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!