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Punctuation – the apostrophe (‘)

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The apostrophe is used to show that a letter is 'missing'. This is most common in contractions:
I'm, he's, we'll, don't, can't, won't and o'clock (of the clock) etc.

The apostrophe is used to show possessions. Here are the ways this is used:

Add 's to a singular noun:
The mobile that belongs to Mary - Mary's mobile.
The car that belongs to my neighbour - My neighbour's car.

Add 's to a plural noun that does not end in 's':
The dresses of the women -  the women's dresses.
A playground for children - a children's playground.

Add ' to a plural noun:
The bicycles of the boys - the boys' bicycles
The names of the students - the students' names

Here are some more examples:
In an hour's time - in two hours' time
A day's delay - three days' delay
My friend's house - my friends' houses

We use an apostrophe only to show that there are missing letters or to show possession. We do not add an apostrophe to verbs or to plural words when there is no possession. In many cases we use an apostrophe for people and animals. In other situations we use 'of':

The side of the car NOT the car's side
The back of the bus NOT the bus's back

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Select the correct word/phrase for the following:

  • 1) Two of our ___ have classic cars.

  • 2) During the summer we had ___ holidays.

  • 3) This is not ___ watch.

  • 4) Console games are more popular with ___ .

  • 5) This ___ has a stain on it.

  • 6) She has gone to her _ house for the summer.

  • 7) ___ were left at the airport.

  • 8) Place the notice on ___.