An apostrophe is generally used for two purposes:
- as part of a contraction to denote the missing letters, for example: Don’t talk while you’re eating, it’s rude.
- to denote ownership, for example: Fern’s chocolate is delicious.
The apostrophe is often abused when used to indicate ownership, however, particularly when paired with the word “it” as it can get a bit confusing!
When using the apostrophe with nouns, the general rule is to place the apostrophe before the “s” if it’s singular or after the “s” if it’s plural.
- singular (one dog): the dog’s paws are muddy
- plural (more than one dog): the dogs’ paws are muddy
When adding ” ‘s” to a plural, or to a word that ends with “s”, it is not incorrect for the “s” to be followed by an additional “s”, separated by the apostrophe, however it is not especially common these days, for example:
- the dogs’s paws are muddy
- James’s feet smell strange