How to check your apostrophes are correct

  • Apostrophes are used for two main jobs, showing possession and showing omission.

  • Apostrophes for possession show that a thing belongs to someone or something. For example Anna's book or the school's logo.

  • Apostrophes for omission show where something, usually a letter, has been missed out. For example,'haven't rather than have not.

Apostrophes for possession

For most nouns you just need to add an apostrophe and an s to show that something belongs to a person or thing. It's a handy tool because instead of saying the bedroom of Luca, the apostrophe and the s make it Luca's bedroom. Much easier!

Here are some more examples. The student's bravery, the headteacher's assembly, the team's performance.

When the noun is plural and already ends in s, move the apostrophe to the end, like this. Students' behaviour or dancers' routines. Putting the apostrophe at the end means that we know there are multiple students or many dancers being referred to.

Apostrophes for omission

Omission means leaving something out, and we often do this with letters or groups of letters in words. The apostrophe shows where this has happened.

Sometimes we join two words together, like would've for would have. This is known as a contraction and the apostrophe in this case shows where the letters ha have been missed.

It’s or its?

These two words cause confusion because they break the rules! Here's what you need to remember, it's with an apostrophe means 'it is' or 'it has'. In the sentence "It’s a good idea" it works just like an ordinary contraction.

But its (without an apostrophe) means 'belonging to it', The bird spread its wings.

Remember

It's always worth checking the apostrophes in a piece of writing, as missing one – or adding one that isn't needed - is the most commonly made punctuation mistake.

Activity - apostrophes

Apostrophe quiz

Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.

Where next?

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