myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Apostrophes (‘)

Apostrophes, although seemingly confusing, have only two main uses:

1.       To take the place of omitted letters or numbers (i.e., form contractions).

Consider the following examples:

Example 1: they're, you've, it's, I'm, she'd, he'll, don't

Example 2: winter of '98, back in '73

In example 1, apostrophes are used in contractions to show the omission of letters.

In example 2, apostrophes are used in years to show the omission of numbers.

2.       To form possessive nouns.

Consider the following examples:

Jennifer's, Connor's, phone's, people's, televisions'

In these examples, apostrophes are used to make the nouns possessive. Remember, apostrophes are not used to make nouns or pronouns plural: they are used to make nouns possessive.


You cannot, however, use apostrophes to make pronouns possessive. Possessive pronouns never use apostrophes.

For example:

That goat is your’s.

Many people get confused over how to make the pronoun “your” possessive. They might simply add ‘s. This is incorrect. Never use an apostrophe with “your”. The personal pronoun “your” is not possessive. The possessive form of “your” is “yours”.

Here is the corrected version of the above example:

That goat is yours.

This rule also holds for all the other personal pronouns. For example:

his, their, her, hers, its.

Many people get confused over when to use its vs. it's. Refer to the personal pronouns section for the usage explanation for “its” vs. “it’s”.


Rules for using apostrophes for multiple possessive nouns:

A.      When two nouns own the same thing, use the possessive form only on the last noun.

For example:

Tom and Jerry’s new house was amazing.

Here, Tom and Jerry both own the house, so the possessive form is only used on the last noun, “Jerry”.


B.      When multiple nouns own multiple items separately, use the possessive form with all the nouns involved.

For example:

Tom’s and Jerry’s houses were both spacious.

Here, Tom and Jerry both own separate houses, so the possessive form is used with both the nouns.

Refer to the compound nouns section in the next grade grammar concepts for information on forming possessives of compound nouns.


Apostrophes also have another minor use. They are also used in plurals of letters to make the writing clearer.

For example:

dot your i's, cross your t's


In the above examples, apostrophes are used to make the writing easier to read.


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