(‘) Apostrophe Rules: When to Use an Apostrophe with Useful Examples

Apostrophe (‘) in English! Learn how to use an apostrophe with apostrophe examples and ESL printable infographic. The apostrophe is an important punctuation mark in the English language which is often used incorrectly.

Here are some common incorrect usages of the apostrophe:

  • Your’s shoes are red.
  • I went to their’s house
  • The book’s are on the table.
  • The flower’s are in the vase.

Apostrophe Rules

The apostrophe has two main distinct uses in English.

Used to show possession

The general rule is that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and “s”, whether the singular noun ends in “s” or not. Let’s take some apostrophe examples:

  • Bat owned by Tom – Tom’s bat
  • Doll owned by Sarah – Sarah’s doll
  • The children’s room
  • The men’s work
  • The babies’ crying
  • A doctor’s patient

Used to show contractions of words

contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters and sounds. You can use contractions to shorten a word by removing one letter or more and substituting an apostrophe in the same spot. Let’s take some apostrophe examples to make it more clearly:

  • are not = aren’t
  • can not = can’t
  • could not = couldn’t
  • do not = don’t
  • does not = doesn’t
  • did not =  didn’t
  • he will = he’ll
  • he would = he’d
  • he is = he’s
  • is not = isn’t
  • it is = it’s 
  • I am = I’m
  • I will = I’ll
  • I would = I’d
  • I have = I’ve
  • She will = She’ll
  • She is = She’s

Example sentences:

  • It is so hot today – It’s so hot today.
  • I have not done my homework – I haven’t done my homework.
  • They are not here yet. – They’re not here yet. 
  • He said he would see his brother tomorrow. – He said he’d see his brother tomorrow.
  • There will be trouble when she finds out. – There’ll be trouble when she finds out.
  • I can not get the cork out of the bottle – can you try? – I can’t get the cork out of the bottle – can you try?

When to Use an Apostrophe | Infographic

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3 years ago


3 years ago

When does the apostrophe for plural or collective Get placed after the s

Eg belonging to a group of people

The Peoples Books
The People’s books
The Peoples’ books.

Please explain.

3 years ago
Reply to  Abi

Well, it’s a little late, but the correct form is “the peoples’ books.” (It really should be “the peoples’s books,” but that would be too clumsy.) So, the “possessive” forms of all the words ending in “s” get the same treatment.
One of the most common errors is to spell “Jesus’ ” “Jesus’s” and to pronounce it “Jesuses.” Fixing this is an easy way to set yourself apart from the ignorant masses.

Ruth Williams-Noss
Ruth Williams-Noss
2 years ago
Reply to  Bhaktan

No this is not correct. It is the people’s books. People is plural and so doesn’t need an s.

1 year ago

yes this is correct people is already a plural noun so it needs an apostrophe in the middle of the es

Russell Arenas
Russell Arenas
3 years ago

hi pls help.. I’m so confused in using apostrophe.. what its the right term.. Officer’s Quartes or Officers’ Quarters?

Tarek Othman
Tarek Othman
11 months ago
Reply to  Russell Arenas

Using Apostrophes to Indicate Possession Possessives might seem tricky, but memorizing three simple rules will prevent you from ever making a mistake when determining where to place the apostrophe. When using a singular noun, the apostrophe is used before the s. For example: “The squirrel’s nuts were stashed in a hollow tree.” When using a plural noun, the apostrophe goes after the s. For example: “The squirrels’ nuts were hidden in several hollow trees throughout the forest.” When using a word that is pluralized without an s, add an s to the end of the word and place the apostrophe… Read more »

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