What Are Apostrophes? (with Examples)

An apostrophe (') is a punctuation mark used:

(1) To replace a missing letter or letters.

(2) To show the possessive form of a noun.

(3) In time expressions.

(4) To show an awkward plural.

(1) Use an apostrophe to replace missing letters.

The shortened words are known as contractions. (Do not make up your own contractions.)

(2) Use an apostrophe to create the possessive form of a noun.

In these examples, the possessive noun is highlighted. The graphic below shows where to place the apostrophe for your possessive noun. apostrophe placement rules That's it! It works for every type of noun. (The rules for apostrophe placement in a possessive noun are far simpler than some people suggest.)

(3) Use an apostrophe in a time expression.

This is similar to Point 2 above. These are just possessive nouns that involve times.
Do not use an apostrophe every time you use a time word (e.g., minute, days, week, weeks, month, months). Only use an apostrophe where the word "of" might have been used instead of a possessive construction: The apostrophe placement rules are the same as for possessive nouns. If the word doesn't end s (e.g., minute, day), add 's. If it does end s (e.g., minutes, days), add just '.

(4) Use an apostrophe to shown an awkward plural.

It is not a popular convention, but all the leading grammar references condone using an apostrophe to show an awkward plural. Of course, there are other ways of showing these plurals, but this method is deemed so efficient, it has become acceptable.
Do not use an apostrophe to show a normal plural. That is definitely unacceptable!

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See Also

Colons Colons Commas All Punctuation