learn the rule: apostrophes

  • Use of apostrophes is a very delicate matter
  • Used in two main ways: as a contraction or abbreviation, that is, joining two words together or replacing letters
    • I will -> I'll (contraction)
    • You are -> you're (contraction)
    • Does not -> Doesn't (replacement for the 'o')
    • Who is -> who's (not to be confused with whose)
      • Who's that? -> Who is that?
      • Whose bike is that? -> To whom does that bike belong?
  • to represent ownership / possession
  • If the thing is singular, it goes: word-apostrophe-s
  • If the thing is plural, it goes: word-s-apostrophe
    • The bike that belongs to John is -> John's bike (the bike belongs to John, and John is singular)
    • The wheels that are on the bike are -> the bike's wheels (the wheels belong to the bike, and the bike is singular)
    • If there are lots of bikes, then their wheels are -> the bikes' wheels (the wheels belong to lots of bikes, the bikes are plural)
    • If all those bikes happen to belong to John, then those wheels are -> John's bikes' wheels (the wheels belong to lots of bikes, the bikes are plural, but all the bikes belong to John, who is singular)
  • Apostrophes are NEVER used to indicate the plural (i.e., multiple)
    • Many things -> lots (not lot's)
    • Lots of bikes are -> bikes (not bike's)
    • Lots of cars -> cars (not car's)
    • Same for apples, photos, DVDs, CDs, pikeys, beers
  • There are some exceptions to the rule, but nevertheless...
  • Getting it wrong makes you look stupid. And ugly.

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