It's been quite a while since I had any English or grammar classes, but there are some things I remember. There are, though, as many that need refreshing for me. If you've not read or followed Marte Cliff's posts, please head to her blog now. But before you do, take this refresher course on apostrophes.
Judging from the number of errors we see - even in headlines on the front page of our local newspaper - it seems that a whole lot of people are confused by apostrophes.
The first rule to remember is that they're almost NEVER used to form a plural.
The exception: When they're used to form the plural of letters and expressions that are not commonly used in plural form. For instance, When you say "There are no if's, and's and but's" or "Mind your p's and q's."
So, if you're talking about two or more REALTORS, houses, school districts, comparable sales, agents, statistics, yard signs, flyer boxes, or clients, you don't use an apostrophe.
When you add an apostrophe to form a plural, you definitely confuse the reader. You're going on about something concerning two or more people or things and your reader is still back there looking for the "something" that should have come after the possessive.
When our local newspaper ran a story about the Rotary club raising money to help "Grandma's" in Africa, I was really confused. Grandma's what? Whose Grandma?
I'm sure I wasn't the only one trying to figure out what they were talking about.
An apostrophe is used either to form a contraction or to indicate possession.
- It is - it's
- We are - we're
- Can not - can't
- Do not - don't
- Mary's doll
- Billy's car
- Jake's new listing
- Jake and Mary's new listing
- Tom and Helen's wedding
- anybody's guess
- somebody's mistake
When the noun is plural and already ends in s, simply add the apostrophe at the end:
- the girls' Mom
- the teachers' break room
- the agents' meeting
- the REALTORS' tour
Pronouns that are already possessive don't use an apostrophe:
yours, his, hers, ours, theirs, its
NOTE* One of the most common errors we see is the apostrophe used in its when its is a possessive pronoun.
It's ONLY stands for "It is" - never for "belonging to it."
Priest River, Idaho