When Should I Use an Apostrophe?

When Should I Use an Apostrophe?

If you ever want to see an English teacher cringe, let him or her see something like this:

“Theyve got 100’s of CD’s and DVD’s at the malls music store’s.”

Yikes! (Or should I say Yike’s?!) There is an incredible amount of confusion (and, admittedly, apathy) about the correct use of apostrophes (that’s apostrophes, not apostrophe’s).

Generally, apostrophes only have two basic functions. First, they may be used to denote a contraction such as don’t for do not or can’t for cannot. For some reason, people often mistake the distinction between its and it’s (please note that its’ is never used). The possessive form of it is its, not it’s.

Example: Its best feature is that it’s economically priced.

Second, apostrophes are used to indicate that something belongs to someone or something:

Example:My wife’s cooking is absolutely yummy.

Third, when talking about something belonging to more than one person or thing, the apostrophe goes on the other side of the “s”:

Example:The kids’ clothes are out on the line.

Finally, never use an apostrophe to make a plural. I’ve seen signs such as “pony ride’s,” “egg’s,” and “tortilla’s.” Such errors should be diligently avoided, as it may cause readers to assume you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Incidentally, the opening example would be correctly written as:

“They’ve got 100s of CDs and DVDs at the mall’s music stores.”

To make sure your writing is correct in every way, consider a professional editing service such as Papercheck.