There’s nothing more frustrating for a copywriter than a misplaced apostrophe. Seriously…it really grinds my gears!
The main reasons you’d use an apostrophe in a word are for possession or to shorten a word to form a contraction.
One of the most common mistakes I see when reviewing people’s content is using an apostrophe before the ‘s’ when it’s a plural. Plurals don’t need an apostrophe; even in acronyms like FAQs, T&Cs and the 80s. The only exception to this rule is when you need to pluralise a letter e.g. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
Use an apostrophe when talking about something belonging to someone e.g. The people’s champion or I’m looking after Jane’s dog. People often freak out if they need to make a word ending in ‘s’ possessive. Relax…although it may look weird written down, you can use the same rule e.g. Jess’s handbag.
Using apostrophes to form contractions is a good way to shorten words, while sounding friendlier and less formal. For example:
You’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome
I’m pleased to meet you
We’re delighted to be here
Did you know o’clock is a contraction? The full phrase is of the clock.
Basically, use an apostrophe in place of any letters you miss out. For instance, Bloomin’ gorgeous - you’ve missed the ‘g’ off ‘blooming’ so put an apostrophe in its place.
Same goes for years e.g. ‘60s or ‘70s (because you’ve omitted the 19 from the year).
If you’re writing a formal piece of content, you probably want to avoid using contractions as you may come across as too friendly or informal.
It’s or its?
When writing about something in the possessive form (referring to people, companies, places etc) use ‘its’ e.g. The dog wagged its tail.
Use ‘it’s’ when abbreviating ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ e.g. It’s great to see you or It’s been a successful day.
Who’s or whose?
‘Who’s’ is used when shortening ‘who is’ e.g. Who’s going to arrive first?
‘Whose’ is the possessive of ‘who’ e.g. Whose turn is it to make the tea?
I don’t blame you. It’s a confusing language. If you need help with when to use an apostrophe, writing error-free content, editing or proofreading existing content, get in touch.