How apostrophes work. (or the apostrophe’s story and its conclusions!). Sources: Michael Swann, Practical English Usage (3rd Edition) David Crystal, Rediscover Grammar ; BBC H2G2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A790175. Case 1 – missing letters.
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(or the apostrophe’s story and its conclusions!)
Can’t = Can not I’d = I would / I had it’s = it is / it has
Who’s = who is / who has
Less common (and never in AmE):
mayn’t = may not shan’t = shall not
Regional: ain’t / am’t = am not (England)
amn’t = am not (Scotland, Ireland)
The boy’s mother Chris’s husband your parents’ house men’s room
singular possessives ending with ‘s’ - and especially ‘ss’ – often drop the final ‘s’. For example, Jesus’ teachings
But not for possessive determiners and pronouns (e.g yours, its)
It’s OK, the dog has had its dinner.
Whose house are we going to?
Words that do not usually have a plural form sometimes have one when a plural form is created:
It sounds like a poor plan – too many if’s and but’s.
Apostrophes are used for plurals of letters and sometimes for numbers and abbreviations:
It really is so 70’s here! Hang on… thats Sue Davies’ car isnt it? I cant believe it! Shes actually walked into the mens’ room by mistake. Chris’s told her to get out! That must’ve been a surprise for him – hes not used to that sort of thing. Chris’ parents upbringing was very strict and its rubbed off on him. His father-in-law’s pretty scary too, so he’s frightened by anything thats even a little risqué. He has to watch his Ps and Qs!
It really is so ’70s here. Hang on… that’s Sue Davies’ car isn’t it? I can’t believe it! She’s actually walked into the men’s room by mistake. Chris’s told her to get out! That must’ve been a surprise for him – he’s not used to that sort of thing. Chris’parents’ upbringing was very strict and it’s rubbed off on him. His father-in-law’s pretty scary too, so he’s frightened by anything that’s even a little risqué. He has to watch his p’s and q’s!