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Rams Write: Apostrophes

Here you'll find a student-generated guide to writing and composition.


Apostrophes are a problem for students because they can have trouble knowing when to use them and when not to. Many people run into problems when they try to use apostrophes for plural words, possessive nouns, and when forming contractions.

Apostrophe Functions

Apostrophes serve two basic functions: 

  •  Show possession

for example: Mary's bag is red.

  •  Indicate letters have been removed to form a contraction

for example: 'could not' becomes 'couldn't' 

Apostrophe Rules

When you should use an apostrophe + s

  • To show that a person/thing owns something
  • To show that a person/thing is a member of something (noun + is = apostrophe + s)
  • If a word ends with an s, add the apostrophe after the s to show possession

Remember these apostrophe rules

  • Plurals do not contain apostrophes
  • When saying “it” is possessive of something, the spelling is “its." 
  • “It’s” is a contraction of “it is."
  • Contractions are single words formed from the merging of a subject and a verb.
  • When forming a contraction, keep the subject the same. Replace all of the syllables of the verb with an apostrophe, except for the last one. (Grammar Rules)


Example 1

Incorrect: Susies dogs friends owner waved to Susie.

Correct: Susie's dog’s friend’s owner waved to Susie.

Example 2

Incorrect: The wild dog licked it’s chops.

Correct: The wild dog licked its chops.

Example 3

Incorrect: My cousin has two nephews’s.

Correct: My cousin has two nephews.

Example 4

Incorrect: Shellys shells shiny scale’s shimmered in the sunlight.

Correct: Shelly’s shell’s shiny scales shimmered in the sunlight.

Explanation: Apostrophes show possession or help form a contraction. They are not used to make a word plural. 

This page was created by/ MLA Citations:

Fall 2018

Paul Bows, Framingham State U, Class of 2020

Joey Lombardo, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Issac Nascimento, Framingham State U, Class of 2022

Works Cited


“When to Use an Apostrophe, Punctuation Rules & Examples, Ginger.” Ginger Pages,