Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

12.12: Apostrophes- Posession and Contractions

  • Page ID
    41564
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Apostrophes

    An apostrophe (’) is a punctuation mark that is used with a noun to show possession or to indicate where a letter has been left out to form a contraction.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Possession

    An apostrophe plus the letter "s" ('s) indicate who or what owns something. To show possession with a singular noun, add apostrophe plus s (’s).

    • Jen’s dance routine mesmerized everyone in the room.
    • The dog’s leash is hanging on the hook beside the door.
    • Jess’s sister is also coming to the party.

    Notice that singular nouns that end in s still take the apostrophe s (’s) ending to show possession.

    To show possession with a plural noun that ends in s, just add an apostrophe (’). If the plural noun does not end in s, add an apostrophe and an s (’s).

    • A plural noun that ends in s: The drummers’ sticks all moved in the same rhythm, like a machine.
    • Plural noun that does not end in s: The people’s votes clearly showed that no one supported the management decision.

    Contractions

    A contraction is a word that is formed by combining two words. In a contraction, an apostrophe shows where one or more letters have been left out. Contractions are commonly used in informal writing but not in formal writing. Many writing instructors prefer that students not use contractions for their formal essays. Part of the reason is tone, and part of the reason is that using them can make proofreading for proper verb usage more difficult.

    I do not like ice cream.

    I don’t like ice cream.

    Notice how the words do and not have been combined to form the contraction don’t. The apostrophe shows where the "o" in not has been left out, and the two words are combined with no space.

    We will see you later.

    We’ll see you later.

    Look at Table 12.12.1, below, for some examples of commonly used contractions.

    Table 12.12.1 -- Commonly Used Contractions

    aren't are not
    can't cannot
    doesn't

    does not

    don't do not
    isn't is not
    he'll he will
    I'll I will
    it's it is, it has
    let's let us
    she'll she will
    she's she is
    there's there is
    they'll they will
    who's who is
    you'll you will

    Tip

    Be careful not to confuse it’s with its. It’s is a contraction of the words it and is. Its is a possessive pronoun. It’s cold and rainy outside. (It is cold and rainy outside.) The cat was chasing its tail. (Shows that the tail belongs to the cat.) When in doubt, substitute the words "it is" in a sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, use the contraction it’s.

    Table 12.12.2 -- Commonly Confused Contraction Spellings

    Commonly Confused Contraction/Possessive Spellings
    Contraction Possessive
    it's (it is) its (owned by "it")
    who's (who is) whose (owned by "who?")
    there's (there is) theirs (owned by them)
    tyler-b-MTjP7QxJESM-unsplash.jpg
    Figure: Unsplash

    Don't use apostrophes with decades. Just add an "s".

    Incorrect: Modern rock was popular in the 1980's.

    Correct: Modern rock was popular in the 1980s.

    Exercise 1

    On your own sheet of paper, correct the following sentences by adding apostrophes. If the sentence is correct as it is, write OK.

    1. “What a beautiful child! She has her mothers eyes.”

    2. My brothers wife is one of my best friends.

    3. I couldnt believe it when I found out that I got the job!

    4. My supervisors informed me that I wouldnt be able to take the days off.

    5. Each of the students responses were unique.

    6. Wont you please join me for dinner tonight?

    7. On the day of the wedding, were going to rent a limo.

    8. My sisters wife will make the arrangements.

    9. Shes a great party organizer.

    Contributors and Attributions

    CC LICENSED CONTENT, SHARED PREVIOUSLY:

    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED CONTENT:

    The page was most recently updated on June 8, 2020.


    12.12: Apostrophes- Posession and Contractions is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto.