An apostrophe is a punctuation mark (') used to indicate possession or omission.
Possession of singular nouns
To show possession of a single noun, the apostrophe + s is added to the following:
Possession of plural nouns
To show possession of a plural noun, the apostrophe + s is added to the following:
An apostrophe + s
is used to show letters or numbers that have been left out.
Omission of letters
In short answers, we can omit the noun if it is not necessary to repeat it:
- Is that your coat?
No, it’s Sandra’s.
Omission of numbers
To show plural of a number:
To show that a number has been left out:
- My grandfather died in '86.
- My grandfather died in 1986.
To show the plural of a number that has been left out:
- The uprising happened in the '60's.
- The uprising happened in the 1960's.
Apostrophe + s used with singular noun
Apostrophe + s used with compound noun
- No: My mother's-in-law waistline is expanding fast.
- Yes: My mother-in-law's waistline is expanding fast.
When apostrophe + s is not used to show possession
So far the noun or nouns to which the apostrophe + s is added to show possession has/have been living things. For non-living things, the apostrophe + s is not used. Instead, of the is used to show something is part of a non-living thing. The reason for this is that unlike living things, non-living things cannot own things.
- No: Your car's windscreen wipers need to be replaced.
- Yes: The windscreen wipers of your car need to be replaced.
- No: The air was black from the factory's smoking chimneys.
- Yes: The air was black from the smoking chimneys of the factory.
- No: Look, the shovel's handle must be held like this.
- Yes: Look, the handle of the shovel must be held like this.