Correct use of apostrophes
Many writers (even good ones) mis-use the apostrophe. But you will find that editors appreciate articles with correctly used apostrophes. A few rules:
Use an apostrophe to show possession (owning). Put an apostrophe in front of the s to show possession by one person. For instance: the man’s dog (one man owns one dog) Or, the man’s dogs (one man owns more than one dog).
Use an apostrophe to show ownership by more than one person (or thing or other noun). But first make the noun plural. Put an apostrophe after the s to show ownership by more than one person.
For instance, all these are correct:
|one dog’s bone||two dogs’ bones|
|one digger’s spade||two diggers’ spades|
|one cat’s hat||two cats’ hats|
Use an apostrophe in contracted (shortened) words. An apostrophe is put in the spot where the letter or letters would be. For instance: ma’m (madam), don’t (do not), we’ll (we will).
To show singular possession with proper nouns ending in s or an s sound, today you must write the word and add apostrophe-s. Singular possession: Mr Jones’s office, John Laws’s car. Plural possession: the Joneses’ house, the Lawses’ cars.
Use an apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item. For instance: Bill and Mary’s car is now repaired. Bill’s and Mary’s cars are now repaired (separate ownership).
Don’t use the apostrophe with the possessive pronouns such as his, hers, theirs, ours, yours. They already show possession, so do not need the apostrophe.
Using an apostrophe to show plurals of numbers, letters, and figures (two KFC’s, 1700’s) is today not used. Correct writing: She bought two CDs, he did best in the 1980s. Most mainstream Australian editors demand it without the apostrophe.