Two things to remember: Apostrophes indicate either ownership or a contraction of words.
The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters:
- Do not = don’t
- Does not = doesn’t
- Is not = isn’t
- Cannot = can’t
- Could have = could’ve
- I am = I’m
- We will = we’ll
- They are = they’re
- Let us = let’s
- Vusi’s cell phone
- Sarah’s car
- The children’s toys
Add an apostrophe and an S, except for plural words that already end with an S: My parents’ house
The odd one out: “its” is possessive, “it’s” stands for “it is” or “it has”.
Ownership by more than one
When two nouns possess the same entity, only the second takes an apostrophe:
- I went to my aunt and uncle’s house yesterday.
When two nouns possess different entities, both possessives take an apostrophe:
- My sister’s and cousin’s houses are on the same street.
- When it’s hot, friends’ and neighbours’ children spend the day at our pool.
When words end with an S
If a word is only one syllable, use an apostrophe and an S:
- Boss’s Day is on 16 October.
For plurals just add an apostrophe after the S: The Millers’ house is next to ours.
Follow this simple rule for the possessive: Add an extra S when you actually say it.
Sometimes singular and plural sound the same, you’ll only see the difference in writing:
- My boy’s school is closed today. My boys’ school is closed today.
Wrong use of apostrophes
Never use an apostrophe to indicate a plural: PCs – DVDs – TVs – 1950s