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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


8’s and 10’s
a’s and e’s
+’s and –‘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!



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


  1. Kristin, you are brilliant to have effectively captured all of these apostrophe rules in three posts! You even covered the funky stuff like ancient names and dual possession. T'were a pleasure to read.

    1. Thank you so much, Currie! I really appreciate your comment, and I'm so happy that you enjoyed the series! :)

  2. ..actually, I think it should be 'twas not 'twere! Oh well, back to work...