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The Flatmates
Language Point 39: Apostrophes


We can use an apostrophe (') to:

1. show possession, show that something belongs or is owned by someone.
Someone's high test score
Your friend's name

2. show a contraction show where a letter has been missed out when words are shortened
He'll know it was me (He will)
If she doesn't report him (does not)


If it's a singular noun, the apostrophe goes before the 's'. It doesn't matter if thing or person owned is singular or plural
The boy's shirt = one owner, the boy
The doctor's patients = one owner, one doctor

If it's a plural noun, the apostrophe goes after the 's'
The boys' shirts = more than one boy or owner
The doctors' patients = more than one doctor or owner

If it's an irregular plural noun, the apostrophe goes before the 's' The men's newspapers
The mice's footprints

If a noun ends in an 's', we usually put the apostrophe + s after the first 's'
James's house
Dennis's friends

Although this rule is flexible and nowadays you might see:
James' house
Dennis' friends

Another exception to this rule is with literary or classical references:
Dickens' novels
Socrates' writings

If the context is clear, we don't always have to mention the thing that's owned:
Is that my pen or Paul's? = Paul's pen
That top is my sister's = my sister's top

We don't use an apostrophe to show possession with these determiners:
mine – That's mine
yours– I've got my money, have you got yours?
his – Those shoes are his
hers– That bike is hers
its– My dog isn't well, its temperature is very high
ours– That house is his and that one is ours
theirs – Don't touch those cakes, they're theirs and they don't like to share


The apostrophe is used to show where a letter or letters have been left out:
She hasn't replied to my letter = has not
He's my brother = is

We can make contractions with:

1. nouns and pronouns
She's a teacher
There's nobody here

2. auxiliary verbs (would, could, will, should) as well as sometimes with be and havewhen they aren't being used as auxiliary verbs:
They would've come if you'd invited them = would have/you had
I haven't got any money = have not

We can't use double contractions in English:
'She'sn't from France' is wrong.
Instead we'd say 'She isn't from France' or 'She's not from France'


get away with something:
to do something wrong or illegal and not get caught or found out








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