Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grammatically Yours - Apostrophes: Contractions, Omissions, and A Bit of Strange (3/3)

In addition to showing possession, apostrophes are also extremely important in signaling contractions or other forms of omissions within a word and/or words.

Contractions

In a nutshell, contractions are simply two separate words smashed together into a single word by leaving out certain letters. These missing letters are signaled by the apostrophe.

Examples:

It is / it has = it’s
Was not = wasn’t
I am = I’m
He is / he has = he’s
She is / she has = she’s
Who is / who has = who’s
You will = you’ll
Will not = won’t
Do not = don’t
She would / she had = she’d
He would / he had = he’d
Let us = let’s
Cannot = can’t

>> Warning: An extremely common mistake is to confuse the contraction it’s (it is / it has) with the possessive pronoun its. As mentioned in the first part of this series, an apostrophe is never used with possessive pronouns (his, hers, its, ours, theirs, yours) or with the pronoun whose.

Example:

It’s never a good idea to separate the dog from its bone.

The word it's can be separated back out into its regular form (it is).

It is never a good idea to separate the dog from its bone. 

Other Omissions

Apostrophes can signal the omission of letters, numbers, or even full words within common phrases.

Examples:

Rock and roll = rock ‘n’ roll
Class of 2012 = class of ‘12
Nine of the clock = nine o’clock

Using Apostrophes to Form Plurals (Otherwise Known as ‘A Bit of Strange’)

In the last post, I made it very clear that an apostrophe is never used to form plural nouns. However, an apostrophe and –s can be used to form the plural of numbers, letters, symbols, certain abbreviations (only those that use periods within the abbreviation), and words that are used as themselves.

Examples:

8’s and 10’s
a’s and e’s
+’s and –‘s
Ph.D.’s
Yes’s and No’s

>>Note: The plural of years is written without an apostrophe (1900s / 2000s). If the century is omitted, an apostrophe will signal the omission ('80s / '60s).

I hope you have all enjoyed this three-part series on apostrophes! Please leave any questions or comments below.

Happy Wednesday!

~~~~~

Schedule:

8/15 – Apostrophes: Contractions, Omissions, and A Bit of Strange <you are here>

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grammatically Yours – Apostrophes: Plural Nouns and Other Weirdness (2/3)

In the first part of this series, we discussed how apostrophes are used with singular nouns and indefinite pronouns. Today, we are going to jump into plural nouns, compound words, and two or more nouns.

Plural Nouns

For plural nouns not ending in –s, write the appropriate plural spelling of the word then add an apostrophe and –s to form the possessive.

Examples:

men’s clothing
children’s backpacks
people’s decision

For plural nouns that do end in –s, write the plural spelling of the word then add an apostrophe.

Examples:

girls’ shoes
clowns’ tricks
horses’ pasture

>>Note: Do not use apostrophes to form plural nouns.

Examples:

I have three books. (correct)
I have three book’s. (incorrect)
She owns two dogs. (correct)
She owns two dog’s. (incorrect)

Compound Words

When forming the possessive of compound words, make only the last word possessive.

Examples:

daughter-in-law’s house
secretary of state’s speech
in-law’s birthdays

Two or More Nouns

For words that show individual possession, each word in the group should be possessive.

Examples:

Karen’s and Tony’s ideas
Beethoven’s and Bach’s compositions
Samuel’s and Mandie’s papers

For words that show joint possession, only the last word in the group should be possessive.

Examples:

Joe and Sarah’s car
Mary and Adam’s store
Cindy and Allison’s presentation

>>Exception: Make the first word possessive if the second word is a possessive pronoun.

Example:

Lori’s and my grandmother

I will be posting the final part of the apostrophe series on Friday! Please, feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Happy Wednesday!

~~~~~

Schedule:

8/1 – Apostrophes: Plural Nouns and Other Weirdness <you are here>