ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Rehabilitate the Apostrophe: Propper Apostrophe Usage

Updated on October 11, 2011

Oh, that delinquent apostrophe! Always wandering in and out of rational thoughts and leaving the mayhem of confusion in its wake. The little cretin has been caught vandalizing artfully penned dialog to the point of mere incomprehensible utterances, and has been charged with criminal possession errors of the worst degree. It has even been rumored that the apostrophe has been seen creating false plurals in the dark places that respectable punctuation would never tread.

It’s time to take this deviant little hash mark into custody and put it through a Possession Rehabilitation and Contraction Action Program (PRCAP). It is important to remember that the apostrophe is not a “bad” mark; it just needs a little guidance and social intervention to help direct its path towards more constructive avenues of expression.

The program is divided into two sections to allow for a more individualized approach when dealing with apostrophes that need more intense rehabilitation in a specific area. Please refer to the individualized counseling topics below when setting up a local PRCAP chapter. With care and guidance, errant apostrophes can become clear and concise members of polite penned society.

At least all bases are covered.
At least all bases are covered. | Source
Et Tu, Disney?
Et Tu, Disney? | Source

The Apostrophe Song

Possession Rehabilitation

-Apostrophe shows possession or ownership. Place the apostrophe before the s for singular possession. Examples:

  • Mike’s game
  • Julie’s house
  • Car’s engine
  • Dog’s collar

-Make a note that singular words ending in s are not required to have a second s, though it is now required by some writing style manuals. Example:

  • Class’s schedules
  • Texas’s size
  • Jones’s house
  • Boss’s car

-To indicate plural possession, the noun must first be made plural by adding an s and then add the apostrophe last. Examples:

  • Kids’ games
  • Two boys’ lunches
  • Two girls’ purses
  • Two brothers’ cars

-When the plural form does not have an s, remember to place an apostrophe and then an s. Examples:

  • Women’s bathroom
  • Men’s department
  • Children’s toys

-When showing possession with a singular compound noun add the apostrophe then s to the end of the word. Examples:

  • Mother-in-law’s dog
  • Brother-in-law’s hat

-For possession with plural compound nouns, make the compound noun plural and then add the apostrophe s. Examples:

  • Mothers-in-law’s dresses
  • Ladies-in-waiting’s hats

-In exception to the possession rule (there is ALWAYS an exception) is the words it’s and its. This is the most common apostrophe mistake.

  • It’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has.
  • Its shows possession.

-Never use an apostrophe with a possessive pronoun. Examples:

  • Correctly shows possession – yours, mine, ours, his, hers and theirs
  • Not only incorrect, but somewhat silly looking – your’s, yours’, theirs’, their’s, her’s, hers’, our’s, ours’. Never allow the apostrophe to defile the possessive pronouns, never.

-Remember that an apostrophe is NOT used to make words plural. This is another common mistake that reduces the most eloquent of prose to the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

 While the contraction is correct, the fact that it was even used just adds to the overall grimace factor.
While the contraction is correct, the fact that it was even used just adds to the overall grimace factor.

Contraction Action Program

Contractions are frequently used in speech and informal writing, but should never be used in formal writing with the exception of quoted dialog. In fact, contractions should not be used in formal or professional speech. For many linguists, contractions are seen as vocabulary byproducts that should be avoided at all costs. Note: vocabulary byproducts have been known to cause perceived loss of IQ when used frequently or for prolonged periods of dialog.

- Apostrophes are used in contractions to indicate the missing letters. The apostrophe must be placed where the letter or letters were removed. Examples:

You’re means you are. This is not to be confused with your which is a possessive pronoun.

It’s -- it is. Do not confuse this with its, which is the possessive form of it.

  • Can’t -- cannot.
  • Won’t -- will not.
  • We’ll -- we will.
  • Don’t --do not
  • You’ll --you will
  • I’ll --I will
  • I’d – I would


Once the apostrophe has been properly rehabilitated, it will once again be safe to sparingly use contractions and show possession in polite society without the fear of utter confusion or outright laughter.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Thank you Hush. I hope more people take care to use apostrophes correctly... as well as the your vs. you're mistake. That one sure gets me.

    • hush4444 profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, thank you! I notice these common errors on hubs all the time and it really detracts from what the authors are trying to say. Voted up!

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Very appropriate apostrophe use there Denise. :)

      Thank you for your comments.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I just came across my nephew's (notice that appropriate apostrophe, hee hee?) English papers from last year, which included common grammatical errors. This nailed it. Very useful.

    • Vicki99 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Thank you. It's always been confusing when to use the apostrophe correctly.

    • Rehana Stormme profile image

      Rehana Stormme 

      7 years ago

      The most common one has to be in "it's" instead of "its". They can be misused by even native English speakers and this hub is very useful in that regard. Voted up all the way!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is some very useful stuff. Apostrophes can be quite hard to swallow, especially when they're commonly misused on advertisements, labels and signs all of the time.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)