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SAT Secret 23: Apostrophes

SAT Secret 23: Apostrophes

We use an apostrophe ( ‘ ) to indicate possession (e.g.Spot’s spots), or to substitute for one or more letters in a contraction (e.g.don’t, they’re).

What is a contraction?

Contractions are words that are created by combining two other words – we add an apostrophe to stand in for the letters we take out. Examples:

  • they’re (they are)
  • don’t (do not)
  • didn’t (did not)
  • can’t (can not)
  • shouldn’t (should not)
  • couldn’t (could not)
  • wouldn’t (would not)
  • he’s (he has or he is)
  • she’s (she has or she is)
  • I’ll (I will)
  • you’ll (you will)
  • he’ll (he will)
  • she’ll (she will)
  • we’ll (we will)
  • they’ll (they will)
  • let’s (let us)
  • won’t (will not)

and a fun one:

  • fo’c’s’le (forecastle – the room where the crew is housed in front of the mast of a sailing ship)

Note: When writing an expository essay for school, avoid using contractions. They create an informal style that is inappropriate for an academic setting.

Possessive Pronouns

The Rule: Possessive pronouns never use apostrophes! Wrong:your’s, her’s, our’s, their’sRight:yours, hers, ours, theirs,its

The Trouble with Its

Its is a possessive pronoun – think of it just as you think of yours, ours, hers and theirs – none of these have apostrophesever!It’s is a contraction for “it is”

Singular Possessive

The Rule: to make a singular noun possessive, add an apostrophe and an s ( ‘s )Examples:

  • sister’s smartphone
  • cat’s collar
  • Justin’s moves
  • nurse’s uniform
  • horse’s hooves

Plural Possessive

The Rule: to make most plural nouns possessive, just add an apostrophe ( ‘ )Examples:

  • my friends’ playlists (for more than one friend)
  • the dogs’ barking (for more than one dog)
  • The Beatles’ third album
  • the nurses’ uniforms (for more than one nurse)
  • horses’ hooves (for more than one horse)

Plural Possessive: The Tricky Ones

The Rule: When the plural noun you want to make possessive doesn’t already end with an s, then just add an apostrophe and an s ( ‘s )Examples:

  • children’s toys
  • women’s clothing
  • men’s room
  • mice’s whiskers
  • dice’s spots
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