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Understanding Apostrophes

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Learn how to place the apostrophe correctly every time!

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Understanding Apostrophes

  1. 1. Understanding Apostrophes By Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  2. 2. English grammar and usage rules can be confusing.
  3. 3. One of the most confusing topics is the use of apostrophes.
  4. 4. Does the apostrophe go before the “s” or after the “s”?
  5. 5. And when should you omit apostrophes altogether?
  6. 6. Today we’re going to clear up that confusion.
  7. 7. Let’s get started.
  8. 8. Here’s how to do apostrophes correctly every time: Look for the correct spelling of the word or name.
  9. 9. Louis Louis’ shift women women’s concerns boss boss’ desk
  10. 10. Try these yourself! (Remember: Look for the correct spelling of the word or name.) the childrens safety Dennis award Mrs. Harris car both boys parents the Johnsons house an officers duties
  11. 11. Let’s start by spelling each word and name correctly. children Dennis Mrs. Harris both boys the Johnsons an officer
  12. 12. Now the apostrophes are easy! children’s Dennis’ Mrs. Harris’ both boys’ the Johnsons’ an officer’s
  13. 13. children’s safety Dennis’ award Mrs. Harris’ car both boys’ parents the Johnsons’ house an officer’s duties
  14. 14. Sometimes there are TWO correct answers… …meaning that you can add an extra “s” to Dennis and Harris if you like. Dennis’s award Mrs. Harris’s car
  15. 15. That’s because these names end in “s.” Dennis’s award Mrs. Harris’s car
  16. 16. Or you can forget about that extra “s.” Both ways are correct! Dennis’ award Mrs. Harris’ car Dennis’s award Mrs. Harris’s car
  17. 17. Let’s try a few more! (Remember: Look for the correct spelling of the word or name.) the puppys shots the puppies shots the Smiths window Mr. Carneys accident the peoples rights
  18. 18. First we’ll spell each one correctly. puppy puppies the Smiths Mr. Carney the people
  19. 19. Now it’s easy! (Remember: Look for the correct spelling of the word or name.) the puppy’s shots the puppies’ shots the Smiths’ window Mr. Carney’s accident the people’s rights
  20. 20. Now let’s take a look at plurals. Here are the Petersons. (Nice family, aren’t they?)
  21. 21. Should we insert an apostrophe into Petersons? Here’s the answer: It depends.
  22. 22. Apostrophes signify “of” ideas. They don’t mean “more than one” or “several.”
  23. 23. The Petersons are having a salad for lunch today. There’s no “of,” so there’s no apostrophe.
  24. 24. The Petersons’ dining room overlooks a lovely garden. “dining room of the Petersons” – yes, you need an apostrophe. That “of” gives it away.
  25. 25. Try these yourself. (Be sure to look for an “of” idea!) The Smiths are in Honolulu. The Holders alarm system isn’t working. The Chans asked me to check on their house. The Farrells car was stolen.
  26. 26. The Smiths are in Honolulu. The Holders’ alarm system isn’t working. The Chans asked me to check on their house. The Farrells’ car was stolen. Here are the answers:
  27. 27. How did you do? The Smiths are in Honolulu. (no “of”) The Holders’ alarm system isn’t working. (alarm system of the Holders) The Chans asked me to check on their house. (no “of”) The Farrells’ car was stolen. (car of the Farrells)
  28. 28. Now let’s look at one more issue related to apostrophes: Possessive pronouns.
  29. 29. Sound difficult? It’s not. Here’s a useful trick: Think about the word his.
  30. 30. His never has an apostrophe, does it? His is a possessive pronoun.
  31. 31. Possessive pronouns never have apostrophes. Never.
  32. 32. That desk is hers. While your car is in the shop, you can use ours. Our department increased its budget again this year. For example:
  33. 33. An apostrophe in it’s means it is: It’s raining. I think it’s going to storm.
  34. 34. Let’s review:  Apostrophes mean “of”  Don’t use apostrophes to mean “more than one”  It’s easy to place apostrophes correctly if you spell the word first: people, puppies, women, Dennis, boys  Don’t use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, ours, yours, theirs, its
  35. 35. For more practice with apostrophes, go to www.WritewithJean.com.
  36. 36. All the resources there are free! www.WritewithJean.com.
  37. 37. You can find a free preview of my book at Amazon.com: “A useful resource for both students and professionals.” - Jena L. Hawk, Ph.D., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College "Personable and readable...Jean knows her subject forwards and backwards.” - Adair Lara, author of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go

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