- Apostrophes mark where letters have dropped out of a
contraction, such as don't
for do not or it's for
- Apostrophes mark the possessive form of nouns:
- singular nouns normally add -s after the apostrophe to
form their possessives:
bird's means belonging to a
bird, octopus's means
belonging to an octopus.
- plural nouns use the apostrophe after their final -s:
animals' means belonging to
more-than-one animal, creepy-crawlies' means
belonging to more-than-one creepy-crawly.
- Greek names ending in -es pronounced "-eez", like
Socrates, form their possessives with just a final
apostrophe: Socrates'. So too does
Jesus form the possessive Jesus'.
- If you look up "apostrophe (2)" in the Oxford English
Dictionary (Loyola has it on-line: go through the
index by clicking OED Online), you will find that this usage
really reflects a contraction too: the possessive form of many nouns
used to be written -es, and starting in the 18th century
English has stopped using the -e- and substituted the
apostrophe; even nouns that used to use just -s for their
possessive forms are now given the apostrophe too, for consistency's
- Possessive pronouns don't use apostrophes: ours, yours, his,
hers, its, theirs.
- Plurals also don't use apostrophes.
- Numerals and names consisting of capital letters are not
exceptions - how else would you be able to distinguish possessives of
these forms? the 1960s, IBM's PCs
Alternatively, see the admonitions of
Revised 11 February 2010 by