Apostrophes 2 - possession/belonging to/ownership/relationship




The apostrophe ' + s shows that someone owns something:
This is Joanne's blog = this blog belongs to Joanne/ the blog of Joanne
That's Jon's car = That is the car belonging to Jon/ the car of Jon
He's Lisa's uncle = He's the uncle of Lisa. He is the uncle of Lisa

Apostrophe for possession uses:

1. An apostrophe replaces the word 'of' / 'belonging to' 
Examples: 
The friend of Jane = Jane's friend. 
The uncle of Lisa = Lisa's uncle.
The travel card belonging to the student = The student's travel card. 

2. An apostrophe is also used in phrases like:
a week's holiday
in an hour's time = one hour from now
tomorrow's match
a year's delay
in one week's time = one week from today.


3. Regular Plurals. If more than one person, animal or thing owns something, put the apostrophe after the s:
The students' teacher was late  = The teacher of the students was late.
All the cars' windows were smashed = The windows of the cars were smashed.
The teachers' staff room =  The staff room of the teachers.



4. Irregular plurals - women, men, children - put the apostrophe after the word:
The children's toys were all over the place.
The women's toilet is over there.
The men's department.


5. Names ending in s, we put the apostrophe after the s:
Mr Peters   -  Mr Peters' car.
John Keats -  John Keats' house 
Charles - Charles' pen.
BUT we can also add 's to these: Charles's pen, Keats's house


6. If joint possession add apostrophe on second name:
Jon and Joanne's house = the house of Jon and Joanne
Lisa and Alex's holiday = the holiday of Lisa and Alex
Ali and Sara's wedding - the wedding of Ali and Sara

BUT  if Joanne and Jon have separate houses then they both have apostrophes and plural nouns:
Jon's and Joanne's houses.
Lisa's and Alex's holidays.


Apostrophes are a nightmare so use them carefully.

Many native speakers use them incorrectly and go 'apostrophe mad' - putting apostrophes everywhere especially in plurals.


When using apostrophes ask yourself: is this a contraction/short form, or does someone own it, or is it a plural?


spelling tests



Let's do some exercises. Rewrite the following on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. 


1. One word in each sentence needs an apostrophe.


a. He met his mothers cousin.
b. The childrens playground is near here.
c. Where is Sonyas pair of boots?
d. He says he likes his brothers picture best.
e. All my friends jobs are well-paid. 
f. They are my mums flowers.
g. Celebrate peoples different cultures!
h. Tomorrows football matches are cancelled.
i. My mother-in-laws house is very big.
j. The ladies meeting is at 8 o'clock.



2. Which word needs the apostrophe (careful one noun is a plural and the other needs an apostrophe):

a. The dogs are howling. The dogs dinner is ready.
b. The students exam starts in a minute. There are ten students outside.
c. Her uncles restaurant is quite famous. Her uncles are all great cooks.
d. They like fast cars. That cars exhaust is trailing on the ground.
e. All of the houses in the street are expensive. The houses owners mostly work in the city.
f. Lots of workers work in hotels. All workers pay is poor in hotels.




Answers


1. One word in each sentence needs an apostrophe.

a. He met his mother's cousin. (the cousin of his mother)
b. The children's playground is near here. (playground of the children)
c. Where is Sonya's pair of boots? (the boots belonging to Sonya)
d. He says he likes his brother's picture best. (the picture of his brother)
e. All my friends' jobs are well-paid.  (the jobs of my friends)
f. They are my mum's flowers.
g. Celebrate people's different cultures!
h. Tomorrow's football matches are cancelled.
i. My mother-in-law's house is very big.
j. The ladies' meeting is at 8 o'clock.


2. Which word needs the apostrophe (careful one noun is a plural and the other needs an apostrophe):

a. The dogs are howling. The dogs' dinner is ready.
b. The students' exam starts in a minute. There are ten students outside.
c. Her uncles' restaurant is quite famous. Her uncles are all great cooks.
d. They like fast cars. That car's exhaust is trailing on the ground.
e. All of the houses in the street are expensive. The houses' owners mostly work in the city.
f. Lots of workers work in hotels. All workers' pay is poor in hotels.


Now try the quiz below.

Also check out my Punctuation Guide and Workbook

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It’s suitable for both British and American English users.