Apostrophe rules

An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to indicate possession or a contraction in a word. Understanding the rules for using apostrophes is important for clear and effective writing.

Possessive Apostrophes

The apostrophe is used to show possession in a noun. The placement of the apostrophe depends on whether the noun is singular or plural.

Singular Possessive

To show possession in a singular noun, add an apostrophe and the letter “s” after the noun.

Example: The cat’s tail was fluffy.

Plural Possessive

To show possession in a plural noun, add an apostrophe after the “s” of the noun.

Example: The dogs’ toys were scattered all over the yard.

Exception: If the plural noun does not end in “s”, add an apostrophe and “s” to the end of the noun.

Example: The children’s books were neatly stacked on the shelf.

Joint Possession

When two or more nouns share possession, the apostrophe is added after the last noun in the list.

Example: Tom and Jerry’s car was parked in the garage.


An apostrophe is also used to create contractions, which are shortened versions of two words. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters.


• It is = It’s • Can not = Can’t • I have = I’ve

Note: Contractions are typically used in informal writing, such as emails or text messages, but should be avoided in formal writing.


There are some exceptions to apostrophe rules that can be confusing, but are important to understand.

Plural Nouns That End in “s”

When plural nouns end in “s”, the apostrophe can be placed either after the “s” or before the “s”.


• The Joneses’ house • The Jones’ house

Names Ending in “s”

When a name ends in “s”, the apostrophe can be placed either after the “s” or before the “s”.


• Chris’ book • Chris’s book

It’s vs. Its

“It’s” is a contraction of “it is”. “Its” is the possessive form of “it”. Remember that “it’s” always means “it is”, while “its” shows possession.


• It’s a beautiful day outside. (It is a beautiful day outside.) • The tree lost its leaves. (The leaves belong to the tree.)

Apostrophes are important for showing possession and creating contractions. Remember to use them correctly to make your writing clear and effective.

Passive Voice and Active Voice

Phrasal Verbs