Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grammar is Sexy Saturday: Apostrophe

Grammar is Sexy Saturday is a new weekly feature here at Whispers. Every Saturday I'll share tips/rules that will, perhaps, help you when writing/polishing your manuscript. Despite the title, this isn't solely about grammar. Matter of fact, today's post is about punctuation.

1-- Use an apostrophe to form a contraction. Remember: The apostrophe in a contraction replaces the missing letter in the word.

Example: Don't is the contraction for do not. An apostrophe was put in place of the missing letter o.

Example: She's nice. She's is the contraction for she is. An apostrophe was put in place of the missing letter i.

2--Use an apostrophe to show possession. Remember: If the subject in question ends in s and is not plural, you will likely need an apostrophe.

Example: That is the dog's ball. Without the apostrophe in dog's the subject would be plural (dogs). Which brings me to the rule for plural possessive...

3--If the subject is plural and you're trying to show possession, place the apostrophe after the s.

Example: That is the dogs' ball. This shows there is more than one dog, and the ball belongs to both/all of them.

4--Special cases require a singular subject ending in "s" to have an apostrophe and an additional "s."

Example: This is Rhiannon Ellis's blog.

5--Names that do not end in "s" can do without the apostrophe when plural.

Example: We're hanging out with the Smiths.

6--Showing ownership with multiple people can be tricky. Use an apostrophe to show possession on the second person's name when two people own the same item.

Example: Mike and Susan's cars are fast. This shows Mike and Susan own the same fast cars. They own these cars together.

Example: Mike's and Susan's cars are fast. This indicates Mike and Susan own fast cars but not the same cars. Susan has her own fast car, and Mike has his own.

7--Some words already show possession and therefore do not need an apostrophe. His, hers, its, theirs, whose, ours and yours.

Example: It's actually means it is.

8--Use an apostrophe to replace missing numbers.

Example: I was born in the '80s. The apostrophe replaces the 19 in 1980s.

Notice I didn't add an apostrophe to '80s (like this--'80's). You also wouldn't add an apostrophe to these examples: I am working on multiple MSs. My son knows his ABCs.

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