Make your voice heard

Writing tip


You see them in ads, on signs, in professional biographies, on websites – you name it.

Sometimes they’re in the wrong spot. More often, they shouldn’t even be there. In fact, an apostrophe has just two uses.


Two reasons to use an apostrophe

1. To indicate missing letters or numbers in a contraction:

Long version


We are

You are


Is not


It is




2. To show ownership or possession when used with an “s”:

  • The CEO’s whitepaper is due tomorrow.
  • The bestselling book’s publisher is assisting with my employees’ publications.

Tip: If more than one thing or person has possession, the apostrophe usually goes after the ‘s’ – see employees’ – above.

Exception: As always, there are a couple of exceptions where an apostrophe isn’t needed to show possession. Think: its and whose.

Apostrophes and numbers

Rarely should they mix. In this example, you might be tempted to add an apostrophe between the number and the ‘s’. Don’t!

  • In the 1990s, when I was in my 20s, I loved music and fashion of the ’80s.

The only time an apostrophe is required is when the number is shortened – for example, from 1980s to 80s.

Check out more confusing writing solutions without the complex grammatical theory here.

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