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How to Use Apostrophes

Learn how to use apostrophes correctly from Gotham Writers' Workshop instructor Stephanie Paterik in this Howcast grammar video.


Apostrophes have two important functions. One is that they can form a contraction if we're going to put two words together, and they can also show possession. So, to start, I'll show you an example of a contraction. If I want to say, It is cold out, and I want to put the words it and is together, I can use an apostrophe to create a new word, it's. It's cold out.

Now, I'm gonna show you how to use an apostrophe to show possession. Let's say that I get my hands on Bridget Jones's diary, and I read her diary cover to cover and I say, Mrs. Jones's diary is interesting. Well, if I want to show possession, on a word that ends in s, I add apostrophe s. And now I've turned her name into a possessive. So, Mrs. Jones's diary is interesting. Again, I want to show you an example that of a word that ends in s so you can see how to appropriately use the apostrophe. We do this when the word is singular. So, in this case, it's one woman. It's Bridget Jones. And we show possession by adding an apostrophe s to her name. What happens if we have more than one Jones? Say all of the Jones's have interesting diaries.

Well, in this case, we want to say the Jones's diaries are interesting. We have a word, the Jones's, which is unique in that it ends in an s and it's plural. So, in this case, if we want to make it possessive, we just add an apostrophe. We don't have to add an apostrophe s if the word is plural. So, those are some instances when an apostrophe can be a little bit tricky, but again it's important to just remember that you use the apostrophe to show possession and you can also use it to create a contraction.

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