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Apostrophe, apostrophe, where for art thou?

Posted on 28th November 2010

So, it's my last and final blog about apostrophes (for now at least) so I thought I would finish with what I hope are the easier rules for correct usage.


With the exception of its (as discussed in a previous blog), the apostrophe is added in to highlight that something belongs to someone. Some examples:

Kate's blog

My child's school

The dog's dinner

James' bag (note when the noun ends in an S then usually just the apostrophe is added and not the second s).

In lots of other languages, they don't have this possessive apostrophe so they have to say things in a roundabout manner, for example:

The blog that belongs to Kate

The school my child goes to

The dinner that the dog is eating

The bag belonging to James.

If in doubt as to whether the apostrophe should be used or not, change the structure of the sentence and if there's clearly a possession, then it needs the apostrophe.


The final use of the apostrophe is to indicate letters have been removed (as is the case for it's too). Some common examples are:

I've (I have)

Won't (will not, and importantly, without the apostrophe this means something entirely different)

They're (they are)

She's (she is).

Often when writing something formal, it is inappropriate to use these shortened versions but they are worth knowing how to write correctly, especially if you're (you are) incorporating speech into your work or trying to keep an informal tone.

All in all, I think the most important element is to think about what the apostrophe is being used for in each circumstance and then you'll get to know why and when to use them!

Written by Kate Haigh.