8 Simple Rules for Using an Apostrophe to Idiot-Proof Your Grammar

Rule #1: Don't put an apostrophe where it doesn't belong.

1. Own something? Use ’s to show it: John’s toilet. If the name ends in s: Add another ’s after it: Chris’s plunger. Inanimate objects can also “own” something, so instead of Instagramming, “Yesterdays rainbow,” post: Yesterday’s rainbow. While you’re at it, use these caption tricks scientifically proven to get more likes.

2. A group owns something? Put ’s after the s: The BRI members’ toilets. (Don’t miss these other grammar rules that will make you sound smarter.)

3. The group doesn’t end in s? Add ’s: Children’s potties.

4. More than one owns the same thing? Add ’s to the second one. John and Gordon’s toothbrush. It’s probably what you’d say out loud, but writing it down is the tricky part—sort of like this weird grammar rule you didn’t know you knew.

5. Something not usually plural? Add ’s to make it plural: Cross your t’s.

6. Taking out letters? Replace with ’s. Here is = Here’s.

7. Is it it’s or its? Use it’s when you could say “it is”: It’s my toilet = It is my toilet. Use it for belonging to: The cheeky monkey pooped its pants. (The pants belong to the monkey; you wouldn’t say, “The cheeky monkey pooped it is pants.”) Sorry, but it’s a strict rule, unlike these grammar rules you can safely ignore.

8. Is it you’re or your? Use you’re when you could say “you are”: You’re wrong = You are wrong. Use your for “belonging to”: I can see your underwear. The underwear is yours, so it’s not “I can see you are underwear.” (Unless, of course, you actually are underwear). Still not convinced punctuation is important? Find out how a missing comma lost one company a lot of money.

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