Limited offer just for you! Get 10% OFF your first paper

Order with discountOrder now

The most common apostrophe mistakes

Apostrophes are punctuation marks that usually serve to show possession or contraction. They are used both in formal and informal writing; therefore, the proper apostrophe usage is relevant for everyone. However, many authors slip up with such an issue and get confused even with the most uncomplicated sentences. Read how to avoid common apostrophe mistakes to become more confident!

Possessives and contractions

People often mistake possessions for contractions. This leads to apostrophe dismissal. For example, the famous mix-up with "it's" and "its". In the first case the contraction is used because the word is missed. In the second case the possession is used: this structure demonstrates ownership. Despite the existence of many instances like this, there are three the most troubleshooting pairs. Read about them below!

Contraction Possessive
It's & Its It's your turn! (It is) The UFO has shown its porthole (the porthole belongs to UFO)
You're & Your You're kidding me! (you are) It's your present (the present belongs to you)
Who's & Whose Who's taken my pen? (Who has) Whose pen is it? (Who does this pen belong to?)

Take a note! Contraction is not frequently used in formal writing! However, it can be a part of the quotation.

Companies and countries

Business and country names also have some apostrophe specific. In a word, the usage of this punctuation mark is up to the situation. Historically, some city and business names are written without an apostrophe (for example, Harpers Ferry or Barclays Bank). It is a good idea to make a small list of such exceptions that are connected with relevant issues. However, there are some tricky questions that the author can't just learn by heart. One of them is a possession of the word "U.S".

U.S' or U.S's?

Formally, the word "U.S" (United States) is a plural noun, but people get used to its singular meaning. It sounds normal to say "The U.S is…" in standard dialogs. However, it's a mistake to form a possessive with "s" in the end. Due to the plural noun possession rule, the correct variant is "U.S'".

  • We are proud of the U.S's history.
  • ✔️ We are proud of the U.S' history.

Adjective form or possession

Some nouns are used as adjectives in English grammar, and it could be quite challenging to differentiate them from possession.

  • ✔️ Tomorrow we will organize a small student party
  • ✔️ This student's party became extremely noisy!

The difference between the 2 cases is very subtle. When it comes to adjectives, the main purpose of usage is to answer the question "What kind of…?" When it comes to possession, the main goal is to show ownership. The feasibility of usage depends on context.

Last names

The basic rule connected with the last name sounds: do not use an apostrophe with plural nouns. When the text describes a couple or the members of one family, put: "s" after сonsonates and vowels "es" after last names that end with sh, сh, x, z
Remember! The end "y" doesn't change to "ies" when it comes to last names.

  • ✔️ Joneses bought this house three years ago.
  • ✔️ Ivanovskys are very polite people.
  • ✔️ Did you see Eriks yesterday?

Pronouns

Possessive pronouns do not require apostrophes, despite the indefinite pronouns. Just remember the pronouns of each group to write correctly! Possessive pronouns: his, its, yours, and so on. Indefinite pronouns: someone's, somebody's, and so on.

Check yourself! Choose the proper apostrophe usage.

  1. It is a wildcat! Do not touch its/it's babies.
  2. Whose/Who's written this email?
  3. Your/You're homework leaves much to be desired.
  4. I'm not fond of the US's/U.S' healthcare policy.
  5. Don't read it! It is teacher/teacher's notebook!
  6. Trotskies/Trotskys were also invited to the reception.
  7. Ivanovs’/Ivanovs are our new neighbors.
  8. Is this jewelry yours/your's?
  9. I'm not interested in someone's/someones opinion.
  10. 1I visited Harpers Ferry/Harper's Ferry last week.
Answers
  1. It is a wildcat! Do not touch its/it's babies.
  2. Whose/Who's written this email?
  3. Your/You're homework leaves much to be desired.
  4. I'm not fond of the US's/U.S' healthcare policy.
  5. Don't read it! It is teacher/teacher's notebook!
  6. Trotskies/Trotskys were also invited to the reception.
  7. Ivanovs’/Ivanovs are our new neighbors.
  8. Is this jewelry yours/your's?
  9. I'm not interested in someone's/someones opinion.
  10. 1I visited Harpers Ferry/Harper's Ferry last week.

More interesting articles