The Feisty Empire Apostrophe Rules


I can be a little lazy when it comes to typing apostrophes. In fact it's a regular occurrence for me to receive emails from readers who notice that I've either used one incorrectly, placed it in the wrong position or even missed it completely.

The following is Paul Hassing's definitive explanation of when and how to use apostrophes in your website copy. Try not to be alarmed by the language in the examples, they are couched in classic "Aussie" vernacular just to make sure the rules stay firmly implanted in your hippocampus.

Rule 1

If you join words, the apostrophe replaces the missing letters.

  • It's crap = It is crap
  • You're dead = You are dead
  • I've spewed = I have spewed

Rule 2

You only use IT’S when it takes the place of IT IS or IT HAS.

  • It's crap = It is crap
  • It's a bastard = It is a bastard
  • It's exploded = It has exploded

Rule 3

No plural needs an apostrophe.

  • Cans
  • DVDs
  • 1970s
  • Companies

Rule 4

The apostrophe shows that someone or something possesses the object being referred to.

  • Fred’s shout = The shout belongs to Fred
  • Beryl’s budgie = The budgie belongs to Beryl
  • The cat’s fleas = The cat has the fleas
  • The cat’s lost its collar = The cat has lost its [!] collar

    [!] IT never has a possessive apostrophe. Refer Rule 2.

Weirdo A: Words ending in S.

  • Ross’ ute = Ross’s ute
  • Jesus’ resurrection = Jesus’s resurrection

Both are correct; the first is shorter.

Weirdo B: When plurals possess things.

  • The politician’s piss-up = One politician got pissed.
  • The politicians’ piss-up = A group of politicians got pissed.
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