Introduction to Apostrophes


An apostrophe (’) is a mark of punctuation used to indicate missing letters in a contraction and to show possession or ownership.

Your writing may be unclear to your readers if you misplace or misuse apostrophes.


This video shows the most common uses and misuses of apostrophes.

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Apostrophes are used in contractions, which are shortened forms of words.

Writers use an apostrophe to take the place of the missing letters. Leaving the apostrophe out is an error, as shown in this example.


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Apostrophes are also used to show that someone possesses something. The placement of the apostrophe depends on whether the “owner” is singular (the girl’s books = the books of one girl) or plural (the girls’ books = the books of two or more girls). The following example shows that the apostrophe is placed last when there are owners (plural).


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Sometimes writers use an apostrophe when there is no need for one. This error tends to occur when people add an apostrophe to form the plural of words, as in this example.


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The study pages cover the spelling of contractions and use of apostrophes when showing ownership.

As you read through the study pages and then practice with LearningCurve, try to determine if the apostrophe is needed to indicate missing letters or to show ownership. Remember that apostrophes are not needed when making a noun plural.

Checking for complete sentences will help you identify and correct apostrophes for the post-test (if assigned) and in your own writing.

Don’t forget to work smartly!