Page name: The apostrophe [Logged in view] [RSS]
2010-12-10 17:39:22
Last author: Annie
Owner: Mister Saint
# of watchers: 8
Fans: 0
D20: 12
Bookmark and Share

The Apostrophe

Here we'll talk about some of the most common and easily made mistakes in amateur writing concerning the apostrophe. As always, if you have something to add, let us know!

Go to...

Grammar and Spelling



Section 1: Apostrophes

All right! I can't even begin to count the number times that either I or someone I know has mucked up the use of the apostrophe, so let's get to that first.

Apostrophes are used either for contractions or to show possession. I'm only going to touch on the more confusing stuff, because if you don't know contractions, you don't need to be writing. Go back to grade school.

Showing basic possession is easy enough. Just add an apostrophe and 's' to the end of the word.

Cat's  Horse's  Brain Cell's

If the word already ends in 's' just slap an apostrophe-s at the end.

Travis's wiki.

Here's the one that most people seem confused about. The plural possessive form has made me heartily desire to bite my own face on more than one occasion. It works like this.

If the plural noun ends in 's' just add the apostrophe. If it's a plural noun not ending in 's', add an apostrophe and 's'.

The chickens' coop smells like chickens.
The moose's tails are short.
(Moose being the plural of Moose, yeah, it's true.)


The chickens's coop smells.

Also, when showing combined possession...

Frank and Gina's dog.
Emily and her pen's mad creative streak.


Frank's and Gina's dog. This would suggest that you're talking about separately owned dogs. In that case, it might be clearer to say, "Frank's dogs and Gina's dogs" but it's not necessary.


Section 2: "It" Words

This one is easy enough. The word 'it' in possessive is spelled its. Not it's, because that would mean 'it is' or 'it has'.

Contraction: It's a beautiful day.
Possessive: Its talons are like rice balls.


Section 3: Quotations

Normally, quoting a speaker is done by placing quotation marks ( " ) (also called double quote) around whatever has been said. There are a couple of quick things I'd like to mention concerning them, and then we're through with this section!

"Don't use an apostrophe to convey spoken dialogue," I said to you, directly before I slapped you with something. Use quotation marks for that. Therefore...

'Take me to the castle, foul wench,' he growled, is incorrect.
"Take me to the castle, foul wench," he growled, is correct.

When someone is quoted by someone else, an apostrophe (called a "single quote" then) is used. For example...

"I told the guy, "I don't want yer frickin' money," but it warn't good enough fer him," slurred the ancient drunkard, is incorrect.

"I told the guy, 'I don't want yer frickin' money,' but it warn't good enough fer him," slurred the ancient drunkard, is correct.

Concerning the end of a quote, be watchful of what you capitalize. If the quotation ends with a period, exlamation point, or question mark, do capitalize the next word. If it ends with a comma, only capitalize proper nouns or the pronoun 'I'. The quotation mark should enclose the entire spoken statement, including the punctuation mark.

"Frank, I hate you". Having said that, Steve promptly threw up and passed out.
"Go clean your room," Screamed the angry mom, "or no incest for you tonight!"

"Frank, I hate you!" Having said that, Steve promptly threw up and passed out.
"Go clean your room," screamed the angry mom, "or no incest for you tonight!"


I think that does it for apostrophes, for now. Moving on!

Go back to...

Grammar and Spelling

Username (or number or email):


2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: Actually I've read that singular words ending with s should get the whole 's ending and the apostrophe only would be reserved for plurals ending in s... where I read it from said that it's okay to use either. Personally I like to do "Travis's" because, well, it's more logical. ;)

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: And, if you said "Frank's and Gina's dogs", that would imply they both have a dog or dogs of their own, I guess that could be added there.

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Actually, I think you're right about that first one. This is what I get for typing this up when my brain is already in bed asleep. ^_^

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Thanks!

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: Fixed ummm... typos. XD Here comes another thing... about when to include the punctuation mark inside the quotes. Now, in a case like this, I really would say placing the period inside the quote is wrong: Some people are "dim". I mean, the period has nothing to do with the word dim there. >_> Another thing is that in Finnish at least it's correct to write "I don't know", ey said. If one were to put the comma inside the quotes, it would be wrong. I guess this is only a difference between languages, though. Personally I always put the comma outside even when I'm typing in English, though I probably shouldn't... XD

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Well, I'm told that in Europe, even when writing English, its correct to put the punctuation mark on the outside, and in the Americas its correct to put it on the inside. Why you ask? I have no freaking idea. Some jackass just decided that the language ought to be made a little more complex.

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: Still more, while I edited the page, I noticed that you (or someone) put two spaces after a period. That's not only wrong, it also doesn't work. ;) Here it will actually create a non-breaking space which prevents the word from going to the next line.

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: I'd thought I'd mention... I nitpick effectively, heh.

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Be gentle, Veltzeh. This is not that critical of a thing, this wiki. Change what you think is wrong, I don't care, just so long as you're not wrong.

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: Well, that's the thing, I'm often not that sure of myself either... X)

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: I'm sure that somebody, somewhere, knows all the answers. And whoever it is, I wish she (got to be a woman, we men are too pragmatic to bother with all the answers) would get down here and shed some light on the situation. Hm... I'll tell you what. The reference I've been using is Strunk's "The Elements of Style", which is available online at and is supposedly the bar for grammar, at least over here in the US. Do you suppose posting a link to it would be in order?. 

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: Lol. Sure, I guess that link would be good.

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Cool. I'll post it on the main grammar thingy page. (Whoo, big words!)

2005-06-02 [Mister Saint]: Thanks for helping out with this, by the way. ^_^

2005-06-02 [Veltzeh]: :D I just like grammar. And spelling. X)

2006-06-08 [iippo]: :/ If there's differences with American and European/British ways of using the comma inside or outside the quotes, could both the ways be on this page? (So "this is correct in the USA," he said. "And this is correct in the UK", he added) Otherwise the page will not only be useful to Americans only, but it'll even be harmful for European/British users of the site.

2006-06-08 [Mister Saint]: If you'd like to take care of it, iippo, feel free. ^^ I only catered to American rules because I'm unfamiliar with the European rules. ^^

2006-06-09 [iippo]: And I'm unfamiliar with all the rules, which is why I was asking how it is correct in the UK. :/

2006-06-09 [Veltzeh]: Even I don't know how it is... I could of course glare at the books I have in English but it's not like they were consistent. >_>

2010-12-10 [Annie]: Just updated the keywords on the page.

Show these comments on your site
News about Writersco
Help - How does Writersco work?