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Apostrophes... Simplify to singular

Posted on 11th November 2010

I was in the pub with some friends a few nights ago and after staring at a friend's chest (male I hasten to add) for a while, it dawned on me that his t-shirt was missing an apostrophe! (Note to self, don't proofread after a glass of wine, it seriously impedes ability.) So I mentioned this to the group and it started a big debate...

Why bother with apostrophes? Does it matter? Should we tell the t-shirt company? Education, what education? And so it went on...*

Consequently, I thought I would put up another hint when it comes to apostrophes to try and help you out.


For example, take the film title 'Two Weeks Notice'. This was the published title yet it was wrong. It should be 'Two Weeks' Notice' and the way to work this out is to convert to the singular:

One week's notice - if the singular has an 's, then the plural needs the same so it should be weeks's (however, for stylistic purposes it is more commonly written as weeks').

One hour's work = ten hours' work.

In some cases, you could remove the apostrophe and put in the word 'of' e.g. one hour of work; ten hours of work but NOT ten hours' of work.

If in doubt, if it has an 's in the singular version, it needs an s' in the plural.

*In case you are unsure and interested, I am firmly in favour of using apostrophes in all necessary circumstances!

Written by Kate Haigh.