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When to Use an Apostrophe

Understanding English Grammar: Apostrophes

Apostrophes are an important part of English grammar but also something that people often get confused about at type my essay, so here is an easy guide to how to use them correctly.

Whether you write poetry, scripts, fiction, or buy term paper, grammar is hugely important. Agents and publishers will often reject work if the grammar is poor – even if the story is good they might not get far enough to be hooked if they are put off by commas, apostrophes, and semi-colons in the wrong place.

What is an Apostrophe?

An apostrophe looks a bit like a floating comma: '

Apostrophes usually represent missing letters when you contract words.


Apostrophes in Contractions

A contraction is when you shorten a word for convenience, such as: can’t, I’ve, it’s.

So the apostrophe replaces letters and spaces that are taken out:

  • Can not = Can’t (replacing: [space],n,o)
  • I have = I’ve (replacing: [space],h,a)
  • It is = It’s (replacing [space],i)

No matter how many letters you remove, you only use one apostrophe to represent them.

Apostrophes don’t always come in the middle of words, they can be at the beginning:

  • Until = ‘til (replacing u,n)
  • Around = ‘round (replacing a)

Apostrophes in Exceptional Contractions

There are some examples that don’t follow the normal rules. For example:

Is not = Isn’t, which replaces [space] and o but not consecutively. Logically it should be Is’n’t but the first apostrophe is ignored.

Others include:

  • Will not = Won’t
  • Shall not = Shan’t
  • "Is not" or “is it not” = Isn’t

There are also vernacular or slang terms in modern use such as ain’t, which is a corruption of “is it not” or “isn’t”:

  • Is it not = very formal
  • Isn’t it = regular
  • Ain’t it = vernacular

The common theme is that the apostrophe goes where the o in “not” would go.

Useful Resources:
Before or After Quotation Marks
What Is Paragraph Unity?

Edited By Joseph Kirby

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