Rule of Use of the Apostrophe
The English language has several distinctive features. One of them is the apostrophe. This little sign sometimes becomes a big problem for students, as many people are confused when to put an apostrophe and when not.
What is an apostrophe in English?
An apostrophe is a comma-shaped superscript (‘).
Although we don’t use this sign in Russian, I think you must have seen it. Many foreign names are shortened with the apostrophe. For example: d’Artagnan instead of de Artagnan.
Apostrophe in English is used in 2 cases that are easy to remember:
- To show membership
- To indicate a skip when shortening words
Use of an apostrophe to denote accessory
We use the Using Apostrophes After S to show that the object/person belongs. To do this we just need to add a ‘s to the word that names the owner.
To test ourselves, we can ask questions to the word: Whose, whose, whose, whose? For example: computer (whose?) Toma, dress (whose?) sisters, ball (whose?) dogs.
Examples of the use of the apostrophe:
- Give me Ann’s notebook.
- This is my parents’ car
- I took my friend’s phone.
- Books lie on teacher’s desk.
- He ate his sister’s cookies.
When else is there an apostrophe in English?
1.Owners are several people/animals.
In this case we simply add an apostrophe (‘) without the letter s to the word that represents them (it will be in plural). After all, we have already added the ending -s to these words to form a plural form (cat – cats – cats’, girl – girls’, sister – sisters – sisters’, friend – friends’).
- This is his friends’ apartment.
- My dogs’ ball was lost.
However, if the word is not formed by rules (you can read about such exceptions here), we add ‘s:
- The teacher took part in the children’s games.
- They only sell’s shoes here.
2.There are two owners.
There are two options for adding an apostrophe.
- One item belongs to two people.
Мы прибавляем ‘s к последнему слову: mother and father’s, Tom and Peter’s, Mary and Jane’s
Mother and father’s car stays in garage.
Мамина и папина машина стоит в гараже. (Речь идет об одной машине, которая принадлежит двум людям)
Tom and Mary’s house is big.
Дом Тома и Мэри большой. (Речь идет об одном доме, принадлежащем и Тому, и Мэри)
Tom and Mary’s house is big.
Tom and Mary’s house is big. (We’re talking about the same house that belongs to both Tom and Mary.)
- Each owner has his own item, which belongs to him.
We add ‘s to every word: mother’s and father’s, Tom’s and Peter’s, Mary’s and Jane’s.
Mother’s and father’s cars stay in garage.
Mom and Dad’s cars stay in the garage. (We’re talking about two cars: one owned by Mom and the other by Dad)
Tom’s and Mary’s houses are big.
Tom’s and Mary’s houses are big. (We’re talking about two different houses that have different owners.)
Apostrophe with possessive pronouns in English
We don’t add ‘s to attractive pronouns (her/hers, your/yours, their/theirs) despite the fact that they answer the questions: whose?, whose?
Wrong: She lost her’s pen.
Correct: She lost her pen.
Using apostrophe to shorten English words
In English, we can shorten some words. In such cases, we put an apostrophe (‘) in the place where the letters are skipped.
Here are the main abbreviations accepted:
I am = I’m You are = you’reHe is = he’sI have = I’veI would = I’dI will = I’ll
not = n’t
- We’re ready.
- I’m calling him.
- They can’t leave.
- I’ll translate.
So, the apostrophe is a sign in the form of a superscript (‘). It is used to show accessory or to shorten. Now let’s practice using it.
What do we know about the apostrophe except that it is in English? Let’s honestly admit that it’s practically nothing. This topic is not explained in textbooks, so the knowledge of how to use the apostrophe is quite fragmented for many.
Apostrophe is not only used in English, but in many languages.
For example, in Russian it is found in the names of our own foreign origin, to separate the letters O and D (Jeanne d’Arc, o’Neill) and in cases when a Russian ending is added to a word recorded in a foreign language: email, HR – most often it is a slang of social networks and the Internet.
In Ukrainian and Belarusian, the apostrophe replaces a solid sign and has a purely phonetic separating function.
In English, the apostrophe has more functions and values. That is why, accustomed to the apostrophe in phonetic roles, we often put the apostrophe in the wrong place, without fully understanding why.
In fact, there is no special wisdom or use of the apostrophe. The apostrophe has two main functions in English: 1. Points for belonging (answer to Whose question?).
- In abbreviations (to show that something is missing in a word or phrase).
Let’s start with these functions, and also consider other uses and exceptions. There will be many interesting and useful things to do.