An apostrophe can be used to replace a letter (or letters). For example:|
Apostrophes Replace Missing LettersAn apostrophe can be used to show that a letter (or letters) is missing from a word.
Using an apostrophe to replace a missing letter is not common in formal writing, where you'd expect all words to be written in full. (Using an apostrophe to replace a letter is extremely common, but it is generally reserved for informal writing. It is used to reflect how people speak.)
Apostrophe error found in a Christmas cracker
Only Use Apostrophes to Replace Letters in Standard ContractionsWhen an apostrophe replaces a letter, a new word is formed (most often, but not always, from two words originally). The new word is called a contraction.
You cannot invent your own contractions. Here is a list of common contractions in English:
DON'T CONFUSE YOU'RE & YOUR
You're is short for you are.
DON'T CONFUSE IT'S AND ITS
It's is short for it has or it is. (There are no other uses.) For example:
DON'T WRITE SHOULD OF
Should've sounds like should of, but it is short for should have. (This is the same for could've and would've.)
As an expansion of can't, cannot is one word.
Although rare, it is possible to see can and not as two separate words. However, this is not usually (see below) an expansion of can't.
NO APOSTROPHE IN OURS
Words like ours, theirs, yours, and hers do not have apostrophes in them.
DON'T INVENT CONTRACTIONS
Words with apostrophes that replace letters are known as contractions. You should only use recognized ones:
In business writing, it is highly unusual to use contractions. You should write all words in their full forms.