Guide Your Reader with Punctuation – Apostrophe

Now that school is back in session, I’m seeing a lot of student writing along with the writing I see in my editing business and in our publishing  house.

Writers seem to have a lot of issues with punctuation, so I decided to offer a few posts on various punctuation marks and how to use them.

Of course, being an editor, I need to start with A!

Apostrophe not only begins with A, it also rises to the top of the list of most misused punctuation.

Here are some tips:

  • Use an apostrophe to show possession. Add ‘s for singular words (employee’s paycheck, for example).  Add ‘s for plurals that don’t end in s (children’s book). Add only the for plurals that end in s (employees’ lounge).
  • NEVER use an apostrophe to show possession with pronouns (yours, hers, his, its, ours, whose, theirs).
  • Use an apostrophe to indicate omission of letters (don’t, can’t) or numbers (’80s, ’63). So many people use the apostrophe like this: 1970’s. That’s just WRONG unless something belonged to the 1970s (then you use apostrophe for possession).
  • Use an apostrophe for plurals formed in abbreviations containing periods (M.D.’s) or in letters used as words (x’s and y’s) or in words used simply as words (I don’t want any if’s, and’s, or but’s from you.).

Punctuation guides your reader through your prose. Use it correctly and your readers will love you for making it such a joy to read what you write.

Happy writing!


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