The apostrophe (‘) is a little mark, but what a heap of confusion it brings to those of us who write in English.  If only it were always used for the same reason, things wouldn’t be so hard to comprehend.

But the apostrophe is used for several reasons, for example—

To show possession (Jason’s hat)
To indicate deleted letters in a word (can’t)
To make numbers or symbols plural (100’s)

Easy enough, right?

Biggest problem with apostrophes: Pronouns and apostrophes don’t get along very well together.         

Combine “he” and “is,” and you need an apostrophe because you’re leaving out an “i.’

he’s = he  is

Make “he” posessive, and you don’t need an apostrophe because…Well, because we never use apostrophes with possessive pronouns. We don’t need to because they usually have their own special spelling, such as—

their = belonging to them

Pronouns are sometimes spelled the same whether they’re possessive or not.

her = belonging to ‘her’ or just  ‘her.’

Did she leave her purse in the car?
Have you seen her?

In short, apostrophes are easy to understand except when pronouns are involved. Possessive forms of personal pronouns (its, his, hers, yours, your, mine, my, ours, theirs) don’t need an apostrophe, ever.  If you see one of these words with an apostrophe  it’s because they’re no longer possessive pronouns.

For example: ‘it’s’ doesn’t mean ‘belonging to it’
The apostrophe stands for something left out: it is = it’s

It’s time the dog learned to obey its master.

The best way to learn about apostrophes is to sit down in a comfortable chair with an interesting book edited and published by a reputable publishing house. Every time you see an apostrophe, stop reading and ask yourself, “Why is that little mark there?” Keep doing that, and before long you’ll be an expert on apostrophes.

By the way, there’s another meaning of the word “apostrophe.” It can mean a piece of poetry dedicated to something grand and wonderful.

So why don’t you study all about the punctuation mark we call an apostrophe, and then write a poem and call it, “An Apostrophe to the Apostrophe?” In your poem extol all the virtues of apostrophes, and you may soon be known as their spokesperson.

Brought to you compliments of Griffith Publishing