Using apostrophes - Lesson 3
Video source: Advanced (plural) possession | featuring David and Paige | Khan academy. (Watching time: 4m:10secs).
When the thing owned is elsewhere
Apostrophes that indicate belonging, but the thing owned is not adjacent to the owner in the sentence.
Sometimes apostrophes occur in such a way as to indicate belonging, or ownership of something, identified at another place in the sentence or paragraph.
It used to be Darryl's car but now it is Neil's.
Oliver Cromwell's was the most popular trophy on display that day.
The current pass rate is higher than last year's.
Apostrophes when more than one person owns something
Like telling someone to meet at Mum and Dad's house - how those apostrophes work.
When you are wanting to indicate the ownership of more than one person you need only use the apostrophe on the second name. This depends a little on the relationship of those involved (or the association between them that we make intuitively).
We can meet at my Mum and Dad's house.
National and Labour's education policy differs only in degree.
We had accidentally taken John and Margaret's seats on the train.
However, if there is no obvious or intuitive relationship between the two people or objects in question put an apostrophe after both names.
The most visited paintings in the Louvre are Picasso's and van Gogh's.
Apostrophes replacing missing letters
When an apostrophe replaces a letter to make a word combination easier to say.
There are variations and stylistic preferences when using apostrophes with dates, requiring a little thought.
The colours in 1970s movies tend to be less distinct than in later decades.
The colours in '70s movies tend to be less distinct than in later decades.
While it is arguable that the movies belong to the 1970s and so need an apostrophe, popular usage treats this differently and 1970 is used to describe the movies. See this happen also in the following instances: teachers college, a parents evening at school.
However, you might use an apostrophe when talking about a specific year.
The songs at the top of 1978's music charts was only lightly influenced by punk.
Apostrophes and plural nouns - advanced
When a group of things need to show possession.
Let's consider some unusal spellings:
Consider the word "children". It is the plural of "child".
The sound of the children's laughter could be heard in the playground.
Other words with this unusual spelling for the plural are: oxen, men, women, and brethren,
There are many other non-standard plural nouns. If in doubt you need to check (perhaps online) how they use the possessive '~s'
Other words to watch for are words that end in double ~ss, such as dress, class, or glass. As Paige explains, they usually become plural by adding ~es, so class becomes classes, and an apostrophe is added to make the possessive.
The schedule for all the classes' timetables was problematic.
Watch out for potato → potatoes, and tomato → tomatoes. Knowing what you now know about using apostrophes, how do you think you would talk about the skin of the potatoes?
Important note: The plural spelling of apostrophe is apostrophes (with no apostrophe in it).
Be really careful not to add an apostrophe to your word just because you think the plural spelling looks odd.
Instructions: Hover or tap the questions below to see the reason for the answers given in the quiz.
1. What item belongs to Kenneth?
After Jane's party, Elizabeth found a pair of glassess under her bedside table that John said were Kenneth's.
a pair of glasses ✔
Why: As you untangle this sentence you can see that Kenneth's name has an apostrophe that refers to something much earlier in the sentence. Sometimes the item may be in another sentence altogether, or even implicit.
2. Does this sentence need another apostrophe anywhere? Select True or False
The most visited paintings in the Louvre are Picasso and Van Gogh's.
More apostrophes needed because Picasso and Van Gogh are not a couple. True ✔
It should be Picasso's and Van Gogh's.True ✔
Why: If you were talking about mum and dad's house, only one apostrophe is needed because it is known that mum and dad are a couple. However, Picasso and Van Gogh are not linked together as an item, so they need an apostrophe each.
3. Select the most appropriate option to finish this sentence correctly.
Presently, there is a fascination with ______.
❍ 1980's fashions ❍ 1980s fashions ❍ '80's fashions ❍ 80s fashions
1980s fashions ✔
Why: The 1980s is acting as an adjective here to describe the type of fashion. Adjectives do not take an apostrophe.
4. Select correct or incorrect
❍ the childrens' teacher ❍ too many apostophe's ❍ the teachers' staffroom ❍ the water's edge ❍ in the 1990's
the water's edge ✔
the teachers' staffroom ✔
the childrens' teacher ✘
Too many apostrophe's ✘
In the 1990's ✘
Why: . "Children" is already plural, so the apostrophe goes before the 's
The plural of apostrophe is "apostrophes" ← no apostrophe in apostrophes
The 1990s is the span of years (plural) comprising the decade. This was a tricky one.