Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Get It Right: Apostrophes

Few punctuation marks cause as much trouble as the apostrophe. In English, the apostrophe serves several purposes, many of which are unknown to the general public.

These DVDs are waterproof... we hope!
Plurals

The apostrophe is not used for plurals! Despite what you may see, things such as DVDs (note the correct pluralisation) should not be written as DVD's, unless it's possessive.

Possessive

As we saw in our previous example, "DVD's" is actually possessive. When a noun becomes possessive we add an apostrophe before the s.

Example: I really enjoyed the DVD's extra features.

Nouns ending in s

Some nouns end in s. Usually one would add 's to the word to indicate the possessive. Here you have a choice. You may add an apostrophe without the letter s.

Example: James' house.

However, if you so wish you can add both.

Example: James's house.

This hungry chipmunk has contracted
a serious case of cuteness!
Personally, we prefer omitting the additional s but both are considered correct and rather than getting into a fight about it, you should just be consistent.

Contractions

An apostrophe is used in when two words have contracted to form a new word. The combination of I and am contract to form I'm, for example. Combine it and is and you will get it's.

Example: I like the DVD, it's really good.

Its (not it's)

Even though the contraction of it and is uses an apostrophe, when you're talking about the possessive of the third person neutral, it, then you do not use an apostrophe.

Example: The DVD was a success thanks to its extra features.