The Rules on When to Use Apostrophes
The rules on using apostrophes can be summarised:
Unless it is covered by one of the categories above, an apostrophe should not be used.
The Most Common Mistake with Apostrophes
Lots of words in English end in the letter s. This happens for one of three reasons:
You will notice that not one of the examples in the three bullets above has an apostrophe in it. This is correct. Do not add an apostrophe to a word just becuase it ends in s. That is a serious mistake.
- It's a plural (e.g., cats, houses, dreams).
- It's a verb ending (e.g., he flies, she bakes, it likes).
- It's a singular noun that ends in s (e.g., Wales, crisis, humous).
The plurals of words ending in vowels (e.g., video, patio) are extremely prone to this error.
- Anteater's prefer termite's to ant's.
- Anteaters prefer termites to ants.
- Pearl's melt in vinegar.
- Pearls melt in vinegar.
- She flie's to New York tomorrow.
- She flies to New York tomorrow.
- Will you see Charle's after this meeting?
- Will you see Charles after this meeting?
- Hire two video's for the price of three.
- Hire two videos for the price of three.
Putting an apostrophe before the s in a plural word is a very common mistake and is considered a grammatical howler.
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