Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Apostrophe Review

This information comes from Purdue University: 
The apostrophe has three uses:
  1. to form possessives of nouns
  2. to show the omission of letters
  3. to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters

Forming Possessives of Nouns

To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an "of the..." phrase. For example:
the boy's hat = the hat of the boy
three days' journey = journey of three days
If the noun after "of" is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, then no apostrophe is needed!
room of the hotel = hotel room
door of the car = car door
leg of the table = table leg
Once you've determined whether you need to make a possessive, follow these rules to create one.
  • add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s):
    the owner's car
    James's hat (James' hat is also acceptable. For plural, proper nouns that are possessive, use an apostrophe after the 's': "The Eggles' presentation was good." The Eggles are a husband and wife consultant team.)
  • add 's to the plural forms that do not end in -s:
    the children's game
    the geese's honking
  • add ' to the end of plural nouns that end in -s:
    two cats' toys
    three friends' letters
    the countries' laws
  • add 's to the end of compound words:
    my brother-in-law's money
  • add 's to the last noun to show joint possession of an object:
    Todd and Anne's apartment
Extra credit opportunity:  Find apostrophes used correctly in published text -- newspapers, magazines, etc. circle the words, and bring me the original or a copy. 

See also a crib sheet for apostrophe usage  at
And here's another helpful review -- with funny pictures:
And some apostrophe errors: 
 and  Help with Apostrophes

 Exception to the Rule (Compound Nouns)  from
Here is another quirk. Some compound nouns (e.g., sister-in-law) do not form their plurals by adding s to the end.  The s is appended to the principal word (i.e., the plural is sisters-in-law). With a noun like this, the possessive form is created by adding 's to the end, regardless of whether it is singular or plural.
Singular  Plural
sister-in-law's pond
colonel-in-chief's arrival
maid of honour's bouquet  
sisters-in-law's husbands
colonels-in-chief's meeting
maids of honour's dresses

Cool video about apostrophe use:

Find this at