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25 / 03 / 2008

THE ENGLISH APOSTROPHE REVIEW (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). This week and Monday we'll review the main uses of the apostrophe in English.

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

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 tomorrow 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 DO NOT say, ***the book of Matthew is on the table.***

Example 2
My brother's wedding was 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 when indicating possession.

If you have questions about the use of the apostrophe for possession in English, please don't hesitate to post a question in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website (

Have a good day.