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Fixing apostrophe errors: examples

Updated on August 26, 2013

Apostrophe ignorance

We all need some help fixing apostrophe errors. Apostrophe ignorance is rampant. To give you an example, a flier arrived in my mailbox at the college where I teach communications. "Loan's galore", screamed the headline. Whaaaat! I couldn't believe it. Doesn't everyone know that you don't use an apostrophe with the plural of a noun? Apparently not. I regularly red circle misplaced and misused apostrophes Do a Google search for apostrophe blogs and you'll find ardent chroniclers documenting offending signs offering everything from "sundae's`", `"pie's" or oil "change's".What's going on? Apparently we've forgotten the apostrophe rules.

We don't know how to use apostrophes

When not to use the apostrophe

So let's get started fixing apostrophe errors. But, efore I tell you the apostrophe rules, I`ll tell you when not to use this tiny, but important piece of punctuation. Avoid putting apostrophe after possessive pronouns

For example:

  • His not his’
  • Hers, not hers’
  • Yours not yours’

And please, please, avoid using apostrophes for plural nouns ending in s.

It`s many houses, not many houses’, six girls, not six girls' and, of course, fresh pies, not 'pie`s'

Fixing apostrophe errors- some rules

Use apostrophes for contractions

  • To eliminate the “o” in not-- turn do not into don’t, and cannot into can’t.
  • To replace an “a” . for example I +am can turn into I’m
  • To join certain subjects and verbs. For example: I+will = I’ll, and I+would=I'd
  • It +is = it’s (note, that this is different than the possessive pronoun its. People often confuse these)
  • She+ has = she’s
  • They+are = the’re
  • Who+ is = who’s (not the posessive pronoun whose).

More on Omission

if you want to refer to that the summer of 1968, write the summer of '68

Plural of alphabet letters

Use an apostrophe as a visual cue to indicate the plural of letter of the Alphabet. For example: I gave four F's and four A`s last term. It would look so awkward if I wrote it as four Fs or four As.Similarly for the plural of certain expressions, it is acceptable to use an apostrophe. For instance: pay close attention to the do's and dont's of apostrophes.

Before the "S" or after?

Here are some rules whether to put before an s or after an s.

  • 1. For singular nouns that don't end in s, add an apostrophe and s. So if one girl has many curls, then it's thegirl's curls.
  • 2 - For singular nouns ending in s, add an apostrophe and s. For example: thelass'sglass,James's car, orKeats's book
  • 3 - For words two or more syllables ending in s, place apostrophe after the s. For example: thematresses' springs orSocrates' quotes.
  • 4 - For pluralnouns ending in s, add the apostrophe after the s. For example: thefarmers' field, theWilliamses' house, theBrowns' party, or thecompanies' products.
  • 5 - For plural nouns not ending in s, place the apostrophe before the s. For example: the children's playhouse, the women's auxilliary, or the men's washroom
  • 6 - For indefinite pronouns, add the apostrophe and s. For example: sombody's hat,anyone's problem, oreverybody's concern.
  • 7 - For compound nouns or word groups, add an apostrophe and an s to the last word. For example: my father-in-law's house, or somebodyelse's house.
  • 8 - To indicate joint ownership (two or more people who own something), add apostrophe and an s only to the last person's name in the series of names. For example: Jean, Max, andJeff's store.
  • 9 - To indicate individual ownership in a group of two or more people, add an apostrophe and s to each person's name. For example:Mary's andSusan's books.


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  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I wrote a hub, too, about apostrophes--a while back. The misuse of apostrophes is one of my greatest peeves! It seems so easy to NOT put an apostrophe on a plural noun, but I see it all the time, too. Makes me crazy! I like this hub. It's well-written and to the point. A great lesson for folks! Nice to see other people who write about grammar. :-) Many votes!