Using Apostrophes in English

Using Apostrophes in English The inverted comma as a tricky way to relate nouns. Hard cases with plural and joint possession.

The apostrophe may serve contracted verb forms and show belonging to titles/names.


The apostrophe often joins subjects with its verbs (in neutral/informal style) by replacing the first 1 or 2 letters in am/is/has/have/them. It also contracts not in negative verbs.

Ive done it!

You cant turn left here.

Another increasingly popular contraction is replacing g in informal –ing endings.

Will ya stop talkin, hah?


‘s is put right after owners possessing following nouns (noun groups).

Jen’s new job is exciting.

John’s shirt is blue.

The men’s suits are black.


In regular plural possessives (already with -s) the apostrophe goes alone without s to compensate. They’re pronounced the same as singular possessives with the apostrophe shifting 1 letter further.

The horse’s hay is damp.

The horseshay is damp.


However with proper names with -s, we still add ‘s pronounced here as [iz].

It’s Charles’s birthday.

Joint Possession

With 1 possession belonging to several owners, the apostrophe goes only after the last owner within its noun group.

John and Jen’s house


With possessions belonging to their respective owners, the apostrophe goes after each.

John’s and Jen’s houses are on the same street.