The crux of the biscuit is the APOSTROPHE!

In my experience, the apostrophe is among the most misunderstood punctuation marks, popping up (or not) in the most unexpected places.

The apostrophe is used to create three forms:

possessive,

contractions,

and the plural of a single lowercase letter.

(Abbreviations and the plural of numbers and other characters used as nouns muddy the issue, along with some specific applications, which are open to discussion if anyone wishes.)

The possessive form is pretty straightforward until it comes to plural nouns.

To form the possessive of a singular noun, we add ‘s to the end, including nouns ending in s, x, z, sh and ch. And that’s that.

It can get tricky with plural nouns ending in s. There’s no problem with plural nouns ending in other letters: children’s games or women’s shoes, for example. When the plural noun ends in s, however, only an apostrophe is added: boys’ toys or foxes’ den.

It gets even trickier with joint possession. When more than one person owns something, the ‘s is added to the final word of a series: John and Judy’s house or John, Judy and Mikey’s house.

To indicate separate ownership, add ‘s after both words: John’s and Judy’s coats.

And if more than one thing is jointly owned: John and Judy’s pets.

Possessive pronouns (his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose) already indicate possession, so no apostrophe is added.

For singular compound nouns, ‘s is added to the end of the word: sister-in-law’s dress. For plural compound nouns, the noun is made plural and ‘s is added to the end of the word: sisters-in-law’s dresses.

Next up: Contractions

Joy Eckel, Freelance Copy Editor
Email joyeckel@gmail.com for a free sample edit and estimate!
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One Response to “The crux of the biscuit is the APOSTROPHE!”

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