When should I use an apostrophe?

A lot of native English speakers don’t always use an apostrophe correctly! We don’t always get it right!  I will try and make the rules as simple as I can and then you can go apostrophe spotting! Please upload photos of any mistakes you find onto our Facebook page.

There are  two main rules:

♦  Apostrophes are used to show that one or more letters are missing e.g

I’ve   instead of   I have

I don’t   instead of   I do not

♦  Apostrophes are used to show possession of the noun

Singular nouns

Alex’s shoes which shows that the shoes belong to Alex

Tandy’s blog which shows that the blog belongs to Tandy

The snake’s tail  which shows the tail belongs to the snake

A  problem arises when the person or thing owning the noun ends in an s. 

Jess’ shoes   NOT   Jess’s shoes

Mr Jones’ hat   NOT    Mr Jones’s hat  (his name is Mr Jones which ends in an s)

The actress’ costume   NOT   the actress’s costume

When the singular noun ends in an s we do not usually add another s, we simply put an apostrophe after the first s that is already there – although it is grammatically correct to have the extra s , stylistically we do not do it.

Regular plural nouns

to make a plural we usually add an s or es. Here we simply put an apostrophe after the first s that is already there ( this  s shows the noun is a plural and the apostrophe after it shows possession).  We do not add another s

the boys’ books    shows that the books belong to the boys – here boys is plural, we are talking about more than one boy (if there was only one boy we would write the boy’s book)

our neighbours’ house    shows that the house belongs to our neighbours and that there is more than one neighbour (if there was only one neighbour we would write our neighbour’s house).


Posted in Uncategorised



English Language Lessons Contact Phone Number
English Language Lessons Contact

English for living

HelpmyEnglish have designed a new course for people who have recently relocated to England and need to develop their English speaking skills to help with everyday living. Contact us for an informal chat.


"....my teacher’s lessons are very well prepared and the course materials are interesting and varied........" Xavier (France)

"....thank you very much for your patience and dedication........ for your kind, funny and interesting lessons........." Hana (Polish) Nurse

"....my individual lessons were perfect. I could choose the amount of conversation and grammar ........" Andi(Switzerland)