Apostrophes and Contractions

We have discussed the primary use of apostrophes, which is to show possession or ownership as in, “The girl’s pet dog is cute” or “That man’s car is green.”

Know this: apostrophes are NOT (never ever ever!) used for plurals or verb endings.

        She swim’s so fast. (Sorry, but that’s wrong. The s ending on swims is just an s ending on a verb and needs no apostrophe.)

        Look at the bird’s in the tree. (This is incorrect too. The s ending on birds is just to make it plural and be more than one bird, so no apostrophe is needed.)

However, there is an important secondary way in which apostrophes are used: contractions.  A contraction is a shortened combination of two words.  The two words are either two verbs that work together or a pronoun and a verb.  Here are some common examples:

Do not = don’t

Was not = wasn’t

She will = she’ll

We would = we’d

As you can see, the apostrophe replaces whatever letters are dropped from the second word of the combination.  Knowing that the apostrophe replaces the “o” in “not” is easy to remember, but knowing you drop the entire “woul” of “would” is not so simple.  In short, you do have to study and memorize which letters are dropped and replaced by the apostrophe for all the possible contractions. However, you will learn them quite quickly just by writing and working with a SpiderSmart teacher!

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