Do apostrophes or possessives trip you up? If you're like me, an occasional refresher is helpful. The apostrophe's basic function is easy, but there are other uses such as:
- To form a plural of a letter: I got all A's and B's.
- To form a plural of a number or symbol: 6's or %'s
- When a word is discussed as a word: The sentence contains too many hey's and dude's.
- To abbreviate a year: She graduated in '03.
Possessives get tricky too. It helps to remember that the "owner" is the word immediately before the apostrophe. Ask, is it possessive or plural, or is it possessive and singular, or possessive and plural? Then use the apostrophe like so:
- Singular versus plural possession: the horse's trainer, the horses' trainer
- Compound word possessives: editor in chief's office, sister in law's birthday
- Plural compound word possessives: brothers in law's cars (more than one brother in law)
- For an indefinite pronoun: anyone's guess, everybody's favorite
- Individual possession: Micah's, Allie's, and Nat's books (they each own their own book)
- Shared possession: Tim, David, and Becky's book (they all own the same book)
Then, don't forget:
- Do not use an apostrophe for possessive pronouns: its, yours, ours, his, hers, their
Do apostrophes or possessives challenge you? What helps keep things straight?
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