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The rules concerning the use of apostrophes in written English are very simple:
1. They are used to denote a missing letter or letters, for example:
I can’t instead of I cannot
I don’t instead of I do not
it’s instead of it is or it has
2. They are used to denote possession, for example:
the dog’s bone
the company’s logo
Jones’s bakery (but Joneses’ bakery if owned by more than one Jones)
This applies to all nouns, so the correct versions are Jesus’s disciples, Keats’s poems and so on.
Please note that “Its”, which is usually used as a possessive adjective (like “our”, “his” etc), does not take an apostrophe:
the dog ate its bone and we ate our dinner
… however, if there are two or more dogs, companies or Joneses in our example, the apostrophe comes after the ‘s’:
the dogs’ bones
the companies’ logos
3. Apostrophes are NEVER ever used to denote plurals! Common examples of such abuse (all seen in real life!) are:
Banana’s for sale which of course should read Bananas for sale
Menu’s printed to order which should read Menus printed to order
MOT’s at this garage which should read MOTs at this garage
1000’s of bargains here! which should read 1000s of bargains here!
New CD’s just in! which should read New CDs just in!
Buy your Xmas tree’s here! which should read Buy your Xmas trees here!
Note: Special care must be taken over the use of “your” and “you’re” as they sound the same but are used quite differently:
your is possessive as in this is your pen
you’re is short for “you are” as in you’re coming over to my house.
Possessive determiners constitute a sub-class of determiners which modify a noun by attributing possession (or other sense of belonging) to someone or something. They are also known as possessive adjectives.
Examples in English include possessive forms of the personal pronouns, namely my, your, his, her, its, our and their, but excluding the forms such as mine and ours that are used as possessive pronouns and not as determiners. Possessive determiners may also be taken to include possessive forms made from nouns, from other pronouns and from noun phrases, such as John’s, the girl’s, somebody’s, the king of Spain’s, when used to modify a following noun.
In many languages, possessive determiners are subject to agreement with the noun they modify, as in the French mon, ma, mes, respectively the masculine singular, feminine singular and plural forms corresponding to the English my.
Possessive -s The key trait of the possessive -s construction is that the -s can attach to the right periphery of a phrase. This fact means that -s is not a suffix (since suffixes attach to words, not phrases). Further, the possessive -s construction has the same distribution as determiners, which means that it has determiner status.
English nouns are inflected for grammatical number, meaning that if they are of the countable type, they generally have different forms for singular and plural. This article discusses the variety of ways in which English plural nouns are formed from the corresponding singular forms, as well as various issues concerning the usage of singulars and plurals in English.