Uncategorized Writing & Blogging

How To Use Apostrophes Correctly

Oh, apostrophes. They can be the bane of my existence sometimes because (I will fully admit this) I sometimes forget their correct grammar use. So I thought that if I am having trouble with them, then there have to be other people who are as well! Half of the time, it’s pretty easy. But then there are some other rules that are easy to forget.

English grammar rules - Kate the (Almost) Great
I have divided the rules for using apostrophes into 3 categories, as some have multiple rules. Regular reminder where my expertise comes from: I was a ninth grade English teacher and have my bachelor’s degree in secondary Education and English from Vanderbilt University where I took an entire class on correct grammar.

Proper use of apostrophes Kate the (Almost) Great

1. How to use apostrophes with contractions

This is one you most likely already know – when writing contractions (or combining words), use an apostrophe, which indicates that you have left letters out.

Examples: you’re, we’re, don’t, can’t

Note: The only contraction you should use in formal writing is o’clock!

Proper use of apostrophes - Kate the (Almost) Great

2. How to use apostrophes with names and other proper nouns

The rule you probably already know is to add ‘s to make a singular noun possessive. This also applies to plural nouns that don’t end in s.

Example: Alice is Rebecca’s dog.

Example: The family’s house is in Maine.

What we drives me crazy every year is when holiday cards do this incorrectly, and I will fully admit that I messed up one year and told my mother that it was fine to have “The Mitchell’s wish you a merry Christmas!” when that is completely incorrect. MY BAD! Let’s blame it on fibro fog?

Proper use of apostrophes Kate the (Almost) Great

Where it gets tricky is making a noun that ends in s possessive. The truth is that no one really agrees as to whether it is correct o to add ‘s or just an apostrophe, but the best idea is to stick to one method. The most common choice (and the one that I lean towards adopting) is to add ‘s to a regular noun that ends with s but just an apostrophe to a proper noun that ends in it. So:

Example: The class’s test was moved.

Example: Dr. Richards’ surgery schedule is the same every week.

Proper use of apostrophes - Kate the (Almost) Great

3. How to use apostrophes to make other stuff plural

If you are making any of the following plural, add ‘s: numbers, letters, signs, words referred to in a sentence.

Example: 8’s are my lucky number.

Example: Sometimes, my t’s blend into other letters when I write.

Example: I like to use -‘s in my writing.

Example: Why are there so many apostrophe‘s in this blog post?

There you have it! Any questions? Any requests for future grammar tutorials?

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  • Reply Ellen Ross // Ask Away Blog

    OMG I love this.
    xo Ellen from Ask Away

    January 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Brittany Moore

    I love that you've taken the time to touch on this! The mistake I always notice is people spelling the possessive pronoun "its" with an apostrophe – that one bugs the crap out of me!


    January 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm
    • Reply Kate

      That one drives me crazy, too! Glad that you liked the post!

      January 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm
  • Reply Peggy Gilbey McMackin

    Excellent Post. Good grammar is so important, and in particular, when one is sharing a story to others on a public blog!

    January 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm
    • Reply Kate

      So true! It's one thing when you're writing for yourself but something else entirely when you're sharing it with the world.

      January 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm
  • Reply Carolannotated

    Great info and I know just who to pass this along to! Happy New Year #NEB sassytownhouseliving.com

    January 7, 2015 at 2:42 am
  • Reply Kati Rose

    I admit, this is one of the things I'm guilty of. I love to write, but I often break rules partially because I can never remember. I love this handy guide.

    January 7, 2015 at 5:34 am
  • Reply Noor Unnahar

    haha! this is awesome. I may or may not have been confused in these rules.
    Noor's Place

    January 7, 2015 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply An Editor

    Are you joking with #3? Apostrophes are never used to make words plural. Ever.

    June 22, 2015 at 9:46 pm
    • Reply Eric King

      ^^^ This. ^^^

      August 28, 2015 at 1:57 pm
      • Reply Kate Mitchell

        I apologize for not being clear enough! I mean when referring to the word itself. So, so far in this comment, there are two I’s. Another way to explain it is when counting numbers. If you’re discussing the math problem 3+3+3=9, there are three 3’s. Does that make more sense? This is only situation when you use an apostrophe when making something plural.

        August 28, 2015 at 2:06 pm
        • Reply Eric King

          It might be something people commonly do, but it’s incorrect. Your final example in the post (Why are there so many apostrophe‘s in this blog post?) is completely wrong.

          August 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm
          • Kate Mitchell

            Well, regarding that last one, I’m referring to the word apostrophe, not the punctuation mark itself. But it seems like you have completely made up your mind about this; you are more than welcome to take up this argument with the English education professors who taught me that rule, as well as the departments of education in multiple states that agree.

            August 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm
  • Reply Holiday Cards & Grammar | Kate the (Almost) Great

    […] How To Use Apostrophes Correctly […]

    November 16, 2015 at 8:00 am
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