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|The Power of Punctuation, Part III|
Using Apostrophes in Possessives and Plurals
Yes, apostrophes are little, but their misuse can destroy your credibility as a writer. Their omission is glaring, their misplacement an embarrassment. Learn to use apostrophes correctly to maintain your scholarly dignity.
APOSTROPHES TO SHOW POSSESSION
Perhaps the greatest confusion with apostrophes comes when forming possessives.
Usually singular possessives are made by adding an apostrophe and s.
last quarter's sales one of Mars's moons
When a singular noun has more than one syllable and ends with an s or z sound, you may use either an apostrophe and s or just an apostrophe. Either way is acceptable.
Kansas' economy or Kansas's economy
Plural nouns ending in s or es are made possessive by adding just an apostrophe.
many clients' needs several classes' examinations
If a plural noun does not end in s or es, add both the apostrophe and the s.
the men's department some children's clothing
When several people (or things) own one thing, show possession by adding an apostrophe and s to the last noun in the series.
Willa, Bob, and Joel's project
Conversely, if each person in a series owns his or her own thing, add the apostrophe and s to each noun.
Willa's, Bob's, and Joel's projects
If the possessive noun is made of two or more parts, add the apostrophe and s to the final word whether the compound noun is singular or plural.
the attorney-at-law's office the attorneys-at-law's offices
APOSTROPHES TO FORM CERTAIN PLURALS
This is a very common misuse of apostrophes. The only time you should use an apostrophe to form a plural is when the noun is a letter, an abbreviation, a number, or a word discussed as a word.
There are three n's in that word.
Other than the above exceptions, do not use an apostrophe to make a plural.
There's no trick to apostrophes. Just remember to proofread your writing, and if you are not sure about where to place an apostrophe, check the rules.
The preceding tips are from
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