Apostrophe Errors

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The apostrophe is perhaps one of the most-often misused punctuation marks. In one of our previous blog posts, we shared ten tips for using apostrophes correctly. This week, we are going to take a look at some of the most common mistakes people make while using apostrophes so that you can avoid making them too.

Never use an apostrophe to form a plural

One place where people often add unnecessary apostrophes is in plurals. You never need an apostrophe to form a plural. This includes the plurals for abbreviations, letters, numbers, spans of years, and surnames.

For example:

  • cars not car’s
  • ifs and buts not if’s and but’s
  • DVDs not DVD’s
  • Ps and Qs not P’s and Q’s
  • 9s not 9’s
  • the 1970s not the 1970’s
  • the Smiths not the Smith’s

To learn more about how to form plurals correctly, click here.

Never use an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun

As apostrophes are used to denote if someone or something possesses someone or something else, it is easy to get confused when it comes to possessive pronouns. A pronoun should never use an apostrophe to indicate possession.

For example:

  • theirs not their’s
  • yours not your’s

However, an apostrophe is necessary if you are using a pronoun as part of contraction.

For example:

  • he’s not hes (he is)
  • they’re not theyre (they are)

Click here to learn more about contractions and here to learn more about pronouns.

Be careful with the following possessive forms

When multiple people or things are in possession, only the last name that is listed requires an apostrophe.

For example:

  • Mum and Dad’s house not Mum’s and Dad’s house
  • Tom and Jerry’s ongoing rivalry not Tom’s and Jerry’s ongoing rivalry

If a surname ends in the letter S, the apostrophe should come after the S.

For example:

  • the Smiths’ house not the Smith’s house

Some organisations choose to drop apostrophes from their brand name even though using one is grammatically correct. When writing brand names, you should follow the organisation’s lead.

For example:

  • Waterstones not Waterstone’s
  • Nando’s not Nandos

If you are interested in learning more about punctuation, you can find some of our other articles here.

What aspects of spelling and grammar do you struggle with the most? Let us know if there are any other topics you would like us to cover!

22 Sep 2017
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