Apostrophes and Possession

Apostrophes are another small yet completely necessary form of punctuation that cause many errors and much unnecessary second-guessing as we write.

Let’s discuss how we add “apostrophe s” (‘s) to show belonging, owning, or possessing.  Examples:

  • The man’s car is over there. (The car belongs to the man.
  • Our friend’s house is lovely. (The house belongs to the friend.)

Those examples are quite basic. Sometimes, the idea of belonging is a bit different.

  • The dog’s ears droop. (The ears are those of the dog, so this is a type of belonging or possessing.)
  • How was Sarah’s vacation? (The vacation was taken by Sarah, so the vacation belongs to her—it was her experience.)
  • This past year’s events were quite shocking. (The events happened within the year, so it is as if they belong to the year.)

These types of possessing/belonging are important to know because they are not always used or meant in a literal sense (as in, “This belongs to me because I paid for it.”), and are sometimes understood in a broader way.

There is one more rule to remember regarding this use of apostrophes to show possession: if the subject is plural, then the apostrophe comes after the “s”:

  • The dogs’ barking won’t stop! (There is more than one dog barking, but the only way we know is the placement of the apostrophe.)
  • So many players’ goals were met this season. (Multiple players—clear from “many” and “goals” indicating more than one—met their goals.)

However, do not be confused. We do NOT use apostrophes to make plurals—only to show possessing/belonging.

  • The band members performed for an hour. (correct)
  • The band member’s performed for an hour. (incorrect—nothing belongs to the members)

Now you know the basic ways to use apostrophes correctly. It’s not that hard! You can do it!

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