Monday, September 13, 2010

Apostrophes and possession

An apostrophe shows ownership or possession of something: “Mitch’s book.”

•    It also shows omitted letters: “What’s going on?” means “What is going on?”

•    They’re = “they are”
•    Let’s = “let us”
•    You’re = “you are”

• •    Use apostrophes for possession:


–    The child’s toy (it belongs to the child)
–    In today’s world (the world today)
–    Mr. Dolan’s car (the car belongs to Mr. D.)
–    Their money’s worth (the money belongs to them)

Do not use apostrophes with possessive pronouns such as “hers” “its” “ours” “theirs” “yours”

Note:  “it’s” means “it is” (or in past tense, “it has”)


Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of names that do not show ownership:

•    “The Cleveland Browns played the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.”



•    However, use it to indicate individual ownership in a group:

–    “Updike’s and Roth’s work was outstanding” (means both of them get a thumbs-up for separate effort)

However: when two or more are joint “owners,” give the 2nd party the apostrophe:
        “Tonya and Miguel’s house.”

•    Singular nouns ending in “S”
**    Optional rule here: use an apostrophe or don’t when a name ends with an “S”—but stay with your choice!


•    Jesus’s disciples (or Jesus’)
•    My boss’s orders (or boss’)

•    Plural nouns (already have it!)
**   The students’ papers (belongs to all the students)
**The horses’ manes (all the horses)
**The schools’ cafeterias (all the schools)

  (Just tag on the apostrophe to show ownership for the “group” as a plural)

Use an apostrophe to show the dropped numbers of a year:
–    “The ’60s were about music and personal freedoms.”
–    The Spirit of ’76 is a plane.

Use an apostrophe to show the plural form of letters in the alphabet
•    “When I eat alphabet soup, I pick out all the M’s first.”

•    An author actually wrote a novel without any e’s in it.

2 comments:

Let's Find H-Man A Wife said...

I have to get my kids to read this. Good tips on this mystery language we use.

Mitch Lopate said...

It's the fact that English is made from so many other origins; it's a real hodge-podge of old and new as well as foreign languages.
I'm VERY glad it's my formal language...'cause it would be a beast to learn!