Late last year I started a learning series here called Everyday Grammar. We’re taking a look at grammar errors I see all the time — ya know, every day — and we’re learning how to fix them quickly and easily! You can check out the first post HERE.
Let’s get to it with our second installment. Today we’re going to focus on my friend the apostrophe. Again I see so may errors on social media when it comes to using the apostrophe. And, if you ask 3 people what the correct use of it is,you’ll probably get 3 different answers. So here we go with how to use the apostrophe.
How to use the apostrophe
The apostrophe has 3 purposes:
1. To show that a letter has be omitted…
like in don’t or can’t
2. To show possession
That is Mary’s car.
3. To make certain lowercase letters plural
From the Purdue Owl: Apostrophes are used to form plurals of letters that appear in lowercase; here the rule appears to be more typographical than grammatical, e.g. “three ps” versus “three p’s.” To form the plural of a lowercase letter, place ‘s after the letter. There is no need for apostrophes indicating a plural on capitalized letters, numbers, and symbols.
Remember: never use an apostrophe to make your LAST NAME plural!
So all those holiday cards you got from the Hoffman’s and the Curtis’s—all wrong. NO apostrophe is needed. Just add an “s” or “es” and you’re done. Really. That’s it.
If your last name ends in a Y…
Still just add an ‘s’. Merry Christmas from the Kennedys.
If your last name ends with S, CH or Z…
Add an ‘es’. Happy Holidays from the Edwardses. With love from the Churches. Best Wishes from the Sanchezes.
The only time to use an apostrophe with your last name is when you are showing possession!
Examples of singular possesion:
The Johnson’s new boat is beautiful.
We are going to the Anderson’s house.
To show singular possession of a name ending in s or z, add an apostrophe. Others also add another ‘s’.
Mr. Williams’ dog loves me OR Mr. Williams’s dog loves me.
To show plural possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.
The Williamses’ dog is just a puppy. (Form the plural of Williams by adding ‘es’ AND THEN add the apostrophe to show possession.)