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Author: Kathy Hanley

    Introduce apostrophes, why they are used, and common errors with them.


    Explain the difference between its and it’s.


    Explain the difference between your and you’re.


    Explain how to make plural names possessive.


    Explain how to make a name or word ending in s possessive. 


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to use correct punctuation and who is confused about how to use apostrophes. It will explain standard rules for apostrophes and common errors.

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This packet will explain the role apostrophes play in showing possession and in creating contractions.  It will address common errors users make with apostrophes.  Creating plural possessives is another skill that will be covered. 

Source: Kathleen Hanley

The Apostrophe Song

Listen to the Apostrophe song.

Apostrophes and possession

Writers use the  ' to indicate that someone or something owns something. 

Singular Possession

Add - 's if the noun does not end in -s.

Possessives may be singular.  In other words, one person owns one or more objects.  Those possessives are simply formed with an apostrophe and  an s.  's

Example: Mary's car is parked in the driveway.

                  The boy's mitt and hat are sitting on the bench.


Joint Possession

Use -'s after the last noun.

Example: Erin and Kevin's house in on the corner.

Individual Possession

Use -'s after each noun

Example: Joe's and Jeff's bikes were both stolen last night.

Plural Possession

For words that form the plural by adding S:

To indicate a plural possessive for words, in other words, more than one owner, you form the possessive using s followed by the apostrophe.  s' 

Example: Several boys' mitts and hats are sitting on the bench.

                   Teachers' desks are full of books and papers.


For words that change spelling to form a plural:

Not all words form plurals with an S.  Some change in spelling.  For example, more than one man is men.  Child becomes children. 

To show possession with these words, use an 's.

Example:  Children's' play areas are filled with toys.

                   The women's shoe department is on the second floor.


For names that end in S

To show possession with a singular noun that ends in s, add -'s

Example:  James's car is parked on the street.

Exception:  Names from mythology, the Bible, or when pronunciation would be awkward.

Example:  Hercules' labors tested his strength.

To show possession with a plural noun that ends in S, add the apostrophe.

Example:  The Jones' house is on the next street.




Source: Kathleen Hanley


The slide show contains numerous contractions.

Common Mistakes: It's and Its, You're and Your


IT’S is the contraction for IT IS. 

It does not show possession.  It’s should only be used as shorthand for it is.


Example:  It’s a nice, sunny day today.

                 It’s not my fault that you fell into the pool.

ITS is the possessive form or IT.  Unlike other possessives, it does not ever use an apostrophe.

Example:  The dog crawled into its bed.

                 The library changed its hours last week.




YOU’RE is the contraction for YOU ARE. 

It does not show possession. You’re should only be used as shorthand for you are.


Example:  You’re the best friend I could ask for.

                  If you’re going to be late, the least you could do is call.


YOUR is a possessive pronoun.  Unlike other possessives, it does not ever use an apostrophe.


Example:  Do you know where your books were left?

                  Try to keep your locker uncluttered.



Source: Kathleen Hanley