Letter from an Apostrophe

Dear Students,

I am so misunderstood! You’ve probably noticed… I have a bit of a jealousy problem. I am often possessive of the things that follow me. However, I am also a very loyal fellow and do my best to unify other words when letters and numbers have to be omitted.

Since I know you tend to get confused, here are a few tips that will ensure you use me correctly:

First, don’t forget to add me (plus an s) to indicate ownership to singular and plural nouns that don’t already end in “s”. For example, if you are writing about a cookie belonging to Sarah, you need to add an apostrophe + s after you write her name. That gooey, warm, sugar cookie is Sarah’s, and you need to make sure to use me so that everyone realizes the cookie belongs to her. (You see, she would not be very happy if her cookie was stolen.)

Even if you need to give the rights of ownership to a singular proper noun, or someone or something whose name already ends with an “s,” you should still add me plus an “s” after the noun. For example, if Sarah’s last name is James, you would write that Sarah James’s cookies are adorned with rainbow sprinkles. This applies unless you’re writing about someone as important as Moses or Jesus. In that case, you can just leave me hanging by myself after the “s” that ends their name. Don’t worry, I won’t be too lonely.

Lastly, if you’re indicating belonging of something to a plural noun that ends in s, you only need to add me after the s. For example, if you want to remark on the sprinkles on the cookies, you would place me after the “s” in cookies. That way, everyone will understand that the cookies’ sprinkles are very colorful.

Though I can get a little jealous of things that belong to me, I am also a loyal peacekeeper and try my best to help other words where I am needed. When letters have to be omitted in contractions, I kindly stand in the place of any missing letters to hold the word together. For example, if you wanted to combine the words “did” and “not” when complaining that Sarah did not want to share her delicious cookie, you need to place me in between the “n” and the “t” in place of the missing “o” so that I can hold the word together and help you to indicate that Sarah didn’t want to share her cookie.

I know, I know, I’m a complicated bloke. However, we’ll get along fine as long as you remember to use me correctly and avoid my pet peeves. I absolutely detest when students try to use me for a possessive pronoun, or even worse, to form plurals. For example, there is absolutely no reason to use me when writing that Sarah has two cookie’s. There is nothing worse than hanging around in a word for no reason at all! It will also help if you remember that the word “its” is already possessive. You only need to add me between the “t” and “s” if I am needed for a contraction. For example, it’s now time for me to conclude this letter so I can go enjoy one of Sarah’s cookies.

Good luck writers!


Alphie Apostrophe

Written by Leah

Image Credit

For more information on how to properly use apostrophes and other punctuation marks, check out our Apostrophes handout and the Quick Reference Flyer page of our website!