Lets Lirn Inglish, 3

 Let’s Learn English, 3



The online ‘Oxford Dictionaries’ give two main instances where the apostrophe is needed:

“Using apostrophes to show possession

Using apostrophes to show omission”

Richard Dobbs of  another online website entitled  ‘Grammar and Style in British English’  says, ” a third use, the pluralisation of words and letters in such expressions as mind your p’s and q’s, is controverial.”

So for now we’ll concentrate on the first two uses, possession and omission. 

“The main guidelines it gives for showing possession are:

“Singular nouns and most personal names: add an apostrophe plus ‘s’:

We met at Ben’s party.

The dog’s tail wagged rapidly.

Yesterday’s weather was dreadful.

Personal names that end in ‘s’: add an apostrophe plus ‘s’ if you would normally pronounce an extra ‘s’ if you said the word out loud:

He joined Charles’s army in 1642.

Dickens’s novels provide a wonderful insight into Victorian England.

Thomas’s brother was injured in an accident.

“Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, especially in names of places or organizations, for example:

St Thomas’ Hospital

If you aren’t sure how to spell a name, look it up in an official place such as the organization’s website.

“With personal names that end in ‘s’ but are not spoken with an extra ‘s’: just add an apostrophe after the ‘s’:

The court dismissed Bridges’ appeal.

Connors’ finest performance was in 1991.

“Plural nouns that end in ‘s’: add an apostrophe after the ‘s’:

The mansion was converted into a girls’ school.

The work is due to start in two weeks’ time.

My duties included cleaning out the horses’ stables.

“Plural nouns that do not end in ‘s’: add an apostrophe plus ‘s’:

The children’s father came round to see me.

He employs 14 people at his men’s clothing store.

“The only cases in which you do not need an apostrophe to show belonging is in the group of words called possessive pronouns – these are the words his, hers, ours, yours, theirs (meaning ‘belonging to him, her, us, you, or them’) – and with the possessive determiners. These are the words his, hers, its, our, your, their (meaning ‘belonging to or associated with him, her, it, us, you, or them’).”



This concludes the first part of learning ‘using apostrophes to show possession’.  Next week I’ll tackle the second part of to this post, ‘using apostrophes to show omission’.

I hope you’re enjoying the ride and learning with me.


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About caroleparkes

My husband calls me a butterfly because I flit from one hobby to another. Apart from being a wife for 52 years, a mother of three sons, and a grandmother, I'm also an author, genealogist, amateur artist, a lover of most needlecrafts, and occasional poet. Of the above, my most enduring interest has been writing and I hope to be doing it well into old age.
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11 Responses to Lets Lirn Inglish, 3

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Thank you for helping writers everywhere to mind their p’s and q’s.

    One of my pet peeves is writers using an extra apostrophe in noting the decade, as for example 1950s – not 1950’s. I remember a prof in graduate school pointing this out to me in a paper I had written for his course British Novel II.


  2. Mike Grant says:

    This is one of those nagging little things that always ends up with me asking “Is that right?” So far it has been but it’s always nice to refresh the memory. Thank you.


  3. Always good to review this rules. Each time, they make more sense.


  4. Keep them coming. ❤ ❤


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