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04 / 06 / 2004

THE ENGLISH APOSTROPHE ( ' )-1: meaning and examples

Good morning,

There is a lot of confusion about how to use the apostrophe (') in English. In a lot of commercial advertisements, companies incorrectly use English words with the apostrophe-s ('s). Today and Monday we'll review the main uses of the apostrophe in English.

The apostrophe (') is used for two main purposes:

1) To indicate POSSESSION.
2) To form CONTRACTIONS with the verb BE and Auxiliary verbs DO and HAVE and with MODAL VERBS (will, must, etc.).

Today we will look at possession, and on Monday we will look at contractions with verbs.

Remember that in English with people we don't normally use the structure THING of PERSON for possession. Instead we use PERSON'S THING:

Example 1
Matthew's book is on the table.

We don't say, ***the book of Matthew is on the table.***

Example 2
My brother's wedding is the 10th of July.

However, with objects we sometimes use the THING of THING structure:

Example 3
The roof of the house is very old and is in need of repair.

But speakers also use the 's structure with objects.

Example 4
The car's tires are very old and need to be changed.

I should point out that native speakers don't always agree on the use of these different possessive structures with objects. The important thing is to use the 's structure with people.

If you have questions about the use of the apostrophe for possession in English, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Enjoy your day and have a great weekend! And by the way, thanks to Eva for recommending this topic.