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The apostrophe ( or ) is a
punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, whether read silently or aloud. An ...
mark, and sometimes a
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A sy ...
al mark, in languages that use the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
and some other alphabets. In English, it is used for three purposes: * The marking of the omission of one or more letters (as in the contraction of "do not" to "don't"). * The marking of
possessive case A possessive or ktetic form ( abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can include strict ownership O ...
of nouns (as in "the eagle's feathers", "in one month's time", "at your parents'‌
ome Ome may refer to: Places ;Italy * Ome, Lombardy Ome (Brescian: ) is a town and ''comune'' in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy. References Cities and towns in Lombardy {{Brescia-geo-stub ..., a ''comune'' in the Province of Brescia ; ...
). * The marking of plurals of individual characters (e.g. "p's and q's") The word "apostrophe" comes ultimately from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
(, ' he accent ofturning away or elision'), through
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...
and
French
French
. The closing single quotation mark U+2019 () is preferred by
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requireme ...

Unicode
when the character is to represent an apostrophe, though the typewriter apostrophe U+0027 () is often used. The opening single quotation mark , incorrect in this context, is also sometimes seen due to software that converts typewriter apostrophes into curly opening single quotes at the beginning of a line or when preceded by a space. See
Smart quotes In English language, English writing, quotation marks or inverted commas, also known informally as quotes, talking marks, speech marks, quote marks, quotemarks or speechmarks, are Punctuation, punctuation marks placed on either side of a word or ...
for examples.


Usage in English


Historical development

The apostrophe was first used by
Pietro Bembo Pietro Bembo, ( la, Petrus Bembus; 20 May 1470 – 18 January 1547) was an Italian scholar A scholar is a person who pursues academic and intellectual activities, particularly those that develop expertise in an area of Studying, study. A scho ...

Pietro Bembo
in his edition of ''
De Aetna#Redirect DE {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect from ambiguous term ...
'' (1496). It was introduced into English in the 16th century in imitation of French practice.


French practice

Introduced by
Geoffroy Tory Geoffroy Tory (also Geofroy, Latin "Godofredus Torinus") was born in Bourges around 1480 and died in Paris before 14 October 1533. He was a France, French humanism, humanist and an engraver, best known for adding accents on letters in French. His ...
(1529), the apostrophe was used in place of a vowel letter to indicate
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
(as in in place of ). It was also frequently used in place of a final "e" (which was still pronounced at the time) when it was elided before a vowel, as in . Modern French
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
has restored the spelling .


Early English practice

From the 16th century, following French practice, the apostrophe was used when a vowel letter was omitted either because of incidental
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
("I'm" for "I am") or because the letter no longer represented a sound ("lov'd" for "loved").
English spelling English orthography is the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English in written form that allows readers to connect spelling to sound to meaning. Like the orthography of most world languages, English orthography has a broad ...
retained many
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical ob ...
s that were not pronounced as
syllables A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of Phone (phonetics), speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often consid ...
, notably verb endings ("-est", "-eth", "-es", "-ed") and the noun ending "-es", which marked either plurals or possessives, also known as genitives; see
Possessive apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of writt ...
, below). An apostrophe followed by "s" was often used to mark a plural, especially when the noun was a
loan word A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...
(and especially a word ending in "a", as in "the two comma's").


Standardisation

The use of
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
has continued to the present day, but significant changes have been made to the
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
and
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
uses. By the 18th century, an apostrophe with the addition of an "s" was regularly used for all
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
singular Singular may refer to: * Singular, the grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement (linguistics), agreement that expresses count distinctions (such as "one", ...
forms, even when the letter "e" was not omitted (as in "the gate's height"). This was regarded as representing the
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
singular
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical ob ...
"-es". The
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
use was greatly reduced, but a need was felt to mark
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
. The solution was to use an apostrophe after the
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
"s" (as in "girls' dresses"). However, this was not universally accepted until the mid-19th century. Plurals not ending in -s keep the -'s marker, such as "children's toys, the men's toilet".


Possessive apostrophe

The apostrophe is used in English to indicate what is, for historical reasons, misleadingly called the
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
case in the English language. This case was called the
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
until the 18th century and (like the genitive case in other languages) in fact expresses much more than possession. For example, in the expressions "the school's headmaster", "the men's department", and "tomorrow's weather", the school does not own/possess the headmaster, men do not own/possess the department, and tomorrow does not/will not own the weather. In the words of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage: This dictionary also cites a study that found that only 40% of the possessive forms were used to indicate actual possession. The modern spelling convention distinguishes possessive singular forms ("Bernadette's", "flower's", "glass's", "one's") from simple plural forms ("Bernadettes", "flowers", "glasses", "ones"), and both of those from possessive plural forms ("Bernadettes'", "flowers'", "glasses'", "ones'"). For singular forms, the modern possessive or
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
inflection is a survival from certain genitive inflections in Old English, for which the apostrophe originally marked the loss of the old "e" (for example, became ). Until the 18th century, the apostrophe was extensively used to indicate plural forms. Its use for indicating plural "possessive" forms was not standard before the middle of the 19th century.


General principles for the possessive apostrophe


= Summary of rules for most situations

= * Possessive personal pronouns, serving as either noun-equivalents or adjective-equivalents, do not use an apostrophe, even when they end in "s". The complete list of those ending in the letter "s" or the corresponding sound or but not taking an apostrophe is "ours", "yours", "his", "hers", "its", "theirs", and "whose". * Other pronouns, singular nouns not ending in "s", and plural nouns not ending in "s" all take "'s" in the possessive: e.g., "someone's", "a cat's toys", "women's". * Plural nouns already ending in "s" take only an apostrophe after the pre-existing "s" to form the possessive: e.g., "three cats' toys".


= Basic rule (singular nouns)

= For most singular nouns the ending "'s" is added; e.g., "the cat's whiskers". *If a singular noun ends with an "s"-sound (spelled with "-s", "-se", for example), practice varies as to whether to add "'s" or the apostrophe alone. A widely accepted practice is to follow whichever spoken form is judged better: "the boss's shoes", "Mrs Jones' hat" (or "Mrs Jones's hat", if that spoken form is preferred). In many cases, both spoken and written forms differ between writers (see details
below Below may refer to: *Earth *Ground (disambiguation) *Soil *Floor *Bottom (disambiguation) *Less than *Temperatures below freezing *Hell or underworld People with the surname *Fred Below (1926–1988), American blues drummer *Fritz von Below (1853 ...
). * Acronyms and initialisms used as nouns (CD, DVD, NATO, RADAR, etc.) follow the same rules as singular nouns: e.g., "the TV's picture quality".


= Basic rule (plural nouns)

= When the noun is a normal plural, with an added "s", no extra "s" is added in the possessive; so "the neighbours' garden" (there is more than one neighbour owning the garden) is standard rather than "the neighbours's garden". * If the plural is not one that is formed by adding "s", an "s" is added for the possessive, after the apostrophe: "children's hats", "women's hairdresser", "some people's eyes" (but compare "some peoples' recent emergence into nationhood", where "peoples" is meant as the plural of the singular "people"). These principles are universally accepted. * A few English nouns have plurals that are not spelled with a final "s" but nevertheless end in an /s/ or a /z/ sound: "mice" (plural of "mouse"; also in compounds like "
dormouse A dormouse is a rodent of the family (biology), family Gliridae (this family is also variously called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by different taxonomists). Dormice are nocturnal animals found in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and are particularly know ...

dormouse
", "
titmouse ''Baeolophus'' is a genus of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggshell, hard-shelled eggs, a hig ...
"), "
dice Dice (singular die or dice) are small, throwable objects with marked sides that can rest in multiple positions. They are used for generating random numbers, commonly as part of tabletop game Tabletop games are game with separate sliding d ...

dice
" (when used as the plural of "die"), "pence" (a plural of "penny", with compounds like "sixpence" that now tend to be taken as singulars). In the absence of specific exceptional treatment in style guides, the possessives of these plurals are formed by adding an apostrophe and an "s" in the standard way: "seven
titmice ''Baeolophus'' is a genus of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparity, laying of Eggshell, hard-shelled eggs, a hig ...
's tails were found", "the dice's last fall was a seven", "his few pence's value was not enough to buy bread". These would often be rephrased, where possible: "the last fall of the dice was a seven".


= Basic rule (compound nouns)

= Compound nouns have their singular possessives formed with an apostrophe and an added ''s'', in accordance with the rules given above: ''the Attorney-General's husband''; ''the
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is a ceremonial official in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph ...
's prerogative''; ''this Minister for Justice's intervention''; ''her father-in-law's new wife''. *In such examples, the plurals are formed with an ''s'' that does not occur at the end: e.g., ''attorneys-general''. A problem therefore arises with the ''possessive'' plurals of these compounds. Sources that rule on the matter appear to favour the following forms, in which there is both an ''s'' added to form the plural, and a separate '''s'' added for the possessive: ''the attorneys-general's husbands''; ''successive Ministers for Justice's interventions''; ''their fathers-in-law's new wives''. Because these constructions stretch the resources of punctuation beyond comfort, in practice they are normally reworded: ''interventions by successive Ministers for Justice''.


= Joint or separate possession

= For two nouns (or noun phrases) joined by ''and'', there are several ways of expressing possession, including: :1. marking of the last noun (e.g. "Jack and Jill's children") :2. marking of both nouns (e.g. "Jack's and Jill's children"). Some grammars make no distinction in meaning between the two forms. Some publishers' style guides, however, make a distinction, assigning the "segregatory" (or "distributive") meaning to the form "John's and Mary's" and the "combinatorial" (or "joint") meaning to the form "John and Mary's". A third alternative is a construction of the form "Jack's children and Jill's", which is always distributive, i.e. it designates the combined set of Jack's children and Jill's children. When a coordinate possessive construction has two personal pronouns, the normal possessive inflection is used, and there is no apostrophe (e.g. "his and her children"). The issue of the use of the apostrophe arises when the coordinate construction includes a noun (phrase) and a pronoun. In this case, the inflection of only the last item may sometimes be, at least marginally, acceptable ("you and your spouse's bank account"). The inflection of both is normally preferred (e.g. Jack's and your dogs), but there is a tendency to avoid this construction, too, in favour of a construction that does not use a coordinate possessive (e.g. by using "Jack's letters and yours"). Where a construction like "Jack's and your dogs" is used, the interpretation is usually "segregatory" (i.e. not joint possession).


= With other punctuation; compounds with pronouns

= If the word or compound includes, or even ends with, a punctuation mark, an apostrophe and an ''s'' are still added in the usual way: "
Westward Ho! Westward Ho! is a seaside resort, seaside village near Bideford in Devon, England. The A39 road provides access from the towns of Barnstaple, Bideford, and Bude. It lies at the south end of Northam, Devon, Northam Burrows and faces westward into ...

Westward Ho!
's railway station"; "''Awaye!'''s Paulette Whitten recorded Bob Wilson's story"; ''Washington, D.C.'s museums'' (assuming that the prevailing style requires full stops in ''D.C.).'' *If the word or compound already includes a possessive apostrophe, a double possessive results: ''Tom's sisters' careers''; ''the head of marketing's husband's preference''; ''the best dog's death''. Many style guides, while allowing that these constructions are possible, advise rephrasing: ''the head of marketing's husband prefers that...''. If an original apostrophe or apostrophe with ''s'' occurs at the end, it is left by itself to do double duty: ''Our employees are better paid than McDonald's employees''; ''Standard & Poor's indices are widely used'': the fixed forms of ''
McDonald's McDonald's is an American fast food Fast food is a type of Mass production, mass-produced food designed for commercial resale and with a strong priority placed on "speed of service" versus other relevant factors involved in food scie ...

McDonald's
'' and ''
Standard & Poor's S&P Global Ratings (previously Standard & Poor's and informally known as S&P) is an American credit rating agency A credit rating agency (CRA, also called a ratings service) is a company that assigns credit ratings, which rate a debtor's abilit ...

Standard & Poor's
'' already include possessive apostrophes. For similar cases involving geographical names, see
below Below may refer to: *Earth *Ground (disambiguation) *Soil *Floor *Bottom (disambiguation) *Less than *Temperatures below freezing *Hell or underworld People with the surname *Fred Below (1926–1988), American blues drummer *Fritz von Below (1853 ...
. * Similarly, the possessives of all phrases whose wording is fixed are formed in the same way: **" Us and Thems inclusion on the album ''
The Dark Side of the Moon ''The Dark Side of the Moon'' is the eighth studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 1 March 1973 by Harvest Records. Primarily developed during live performances, the band premiered an early version of the suite several ...
'' **
You Am I You Am I are an Australian alternative rock band, fronted by lead singer-songwriter and guitarist, Tim Rogers (musician), Tim Rogers. They formed in December 1989 and are the first Australian band to have released three successive albums that h ...
's latest CD ** The 69'ers' drummer, Tom Callaghan (only the second apostrophe is possessive) ** ''
His 'n' Hers ''His 'n' Hers'' is the fourth studio album packaged in book form, like a photograph album A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some bo ...
'''s first track is called "Joyriders". ** Was '' She'' success greater, or ''
King Solomon's Mines ''King Solomon's Mines'' (1885) is a popular fiction, popular novel by the English Victorian literature, Victorian adventure writer and fable, fabulist Sir H. Rider Haggard. It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of ...

King Solomon's Mines
''? :For complications with foreign phrases and titles, see
below Below may refer to: *Earth *Ground (disambiguation) *Soil *Floor *Bottom (disambiguation) *Less than *Temperatures below freezing *Hell or underworld People with the surname *Fred Below (1926–1988), American blues drummer *Fritz von Below (1853 ...
.


= Time, money, and similar

= An apostrophe is used in time and money references in constructions such as ''one hour's respite'', ''two weeks' holiday'', ''a dollar's worth'', ''five pounds' worth'', ''one mile's drive from here''. This is like an ordinary possessive use. For example, ''one hour's respite'' means ''a respite of one hour'' (exactly as ''the cat's whiskers'' means ''the whiskers of the cat''). Exceptions are accounted for in the same way: ''three months pregnant'' (in modern usage, one says neither ''pregnant of three months'', nor ''one month(')s pregnant'').


= Possessive pronouns and adjectives

= No apostrophe is used in the following possessive pronouns and adjectives: ''yours'', ''his'', ''hers'', ''ours'', ''its'', ''theirs'', and ''whose''. All other possessive pronouns do end with an apostrophe and an ''s''. In singular forms, the apostrophe comes first, e.g. ''one's''; ''everyone's''; ''somebody's'', ''nobody else's'', etc., while the apostrophe follows the ''s'' in plural forms as with nouns: ''the others' complaints''. The possessive of ''it'' was originally ''it's'', and it is a common mistake today to write it this way, though the apostrophe was dropped by the early 1800s and authorities are now unanimous that ''it's'' can be only a contraction of ''it is'' or ''it has''.


= Importance for disambiguation

= Each of these four phrases (listed in
Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental processes such as attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cogni ...

Steven Pinker
's ''
The Language Instinct ''The Language Instinct'' is a 1994 book by Steven Pinker, written for a general audience. Pinker argues that human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thu ...
'') has a distinct meaning: *My sister's friend's investments ''(the investments belonging to a friend of my sister)'' *My sister's friends' investments ''(the investments belonging to several friends of my sister)'' *My sisters' friend's investments ''(the investments belonging to a friend of several of my sisters)'' *My sisters' friends' investments ''(the investments belonging to several friends of several of my sisters)''
Kingsley Amis Sir Kingsley William Amis (16 April 1922 – 22 October 1995) was an English novelist, poet, critic and teacher. He wrote more than 20 novels, six volumes of poetry, a memoir, short stories, radio and television scripts, and works of social and ...
, on being challenged to produce a sentence whose meaning depended on a possessive apostrophe, came up with: *Those things over there are my husband's. (''Those things over there belong to my husband''.) *Those things over there are my husbands'. (''Those things over there belong to several husbands of mine''.) *Those things over there are my husbands. (''I'm married to those men over there.'')


Singular nouns ending with an "s" or "z" sound

Some singular nouns are pronounced with a
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sound at the end: /s/ or /z/. The spelling of these ends with ''-s'', ''-se'', ''-z'', ''-ze'', ''-ce'', ''-x'', or ''-xe''. Many respected authorities recommend that practically all singular nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive forms with an extra ''s'' after the apostrophe so that the spelling reflects the underlying pronunciation. Examples include
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
, the
Modern Language Association The Modern Language Association of America, often referred to as the Modern Language Association (MLA), is the principal professional association A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or prof ...
, the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
and ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is an international weekly newspaper A weekly newspaper is a general-news or current affairsCurrent affairs may refer to: Media * Current Affairs (magazine), ''Current Affairs'' (magazine), a bimonthly magazine of cult ...
''. Such authorities demand possessive singulars like these: ''
Bridget Jones's Diary ''Bridget Jones's Diary'' is a 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. Written in the form of a personal diary, the novel chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-something single working woman living in London. She writes about her c ...
''; ''Tony Adams's friend; my boss's job; the US's economy''. Rules that modify or extend the standard principle have included the following: *If the singular possessive is difficult or awkward to pronounce with an added sibilant, do not add an extra ''s''; these exceptions are supported by ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'', ''
Yahoo! Yahoo (, styled as yahoo''!'') is an American web services The term Web service (WS) is either: * a service offered by an electronic device to another electronic device, communicating with each other via the World Wide Web, or * a server run ...
Style Guide'', and '' The American Heritage Book of English Usage''. Such sources permit possessive singulars like these: ''Socrates' later suggestion''; or ''Achilles' heel'' if that is how the pronunciation is intended.
The Economist ''The Economist'' is an international weekly newspaper A weekly newspaper is a general-news or current affairsCurrent affairs may refer to: Media * Current Affairs (magazine), ''Current Affairs'' (magazine), a bimonthly magazine of cult ...
style guide omits the apostrophe entirely in this case. *Some style guides advise that Classical, biblical, and similar names ending in a sibilant, especially if they are
polysyllabic A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...
, should not take an added ''s'' in the possessive; among sources giving exceptions of this kind are ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' and ''The Elements of Style'', which make general stipulations, and
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, which mentions only ''
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
'' and ''Jesus''. As a particular case, ''Jesus''' – referred to as "an accepted liturgical archaism" in ''
Hart's Rules ''Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford''—today published under the short title ''New Hart's Rules''—is an authoritative reference book and style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of st ...
'' – is commonly written instead of ''Jesus's''. * There are also some entrenched uses, for example ''
St James's Park St James's Park is a park in the City of Westminster, central London. It is at the southernmost tip of the St James's area, which was named after a leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less. It is the most easterly of a near-continuous c ...

St James's Park
'' (in London) (but the Newcastle stadium displays its name spelled ''
St James' Park St James' Park is a Association football, football stadium in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is the home of Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. With a seating capacity of 52,305 seats, it is the List of football stadiums in England, ei ...
''), ''
St James's Palace St James's Palace is the most senior royal palace in the United Kingdom. It gives its name to the Court of St James's, which is the monarch's royal court and is located in the City of Westminster in London. Although no longer the principal resi ...
'' (and ''the
Court of St James's The Court of St James's is the royal court A royal court is an extended royal household in a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College Diction ...
''), ''
St. James's Hospital St. James's Hospital ''Confirms spelling of name as "James's" and Irish name'' ( ga, Ospidéal Naomh Séamas) is a teaching hospital in Dublin Dublin (, ; ) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Situated on a b ...
'' (in Dublin), ''King James's School'', Knaresborough and ''King James's School'', Almondbury (but there is no genitive at all in ''St James Park'' (Exeter) or ''St. James Park'' (Bronx), nor is there one in ''the
King James Bible The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an English translations of the Bible, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publ ...
''). Although less common, some contemporary writers still follow the older practice of omitting the second ''s'' in all cases ending with a sibilant, but usually not when written ''-x'' or ''-xe''. Some contemporary authorities such as the Associated Press Stylebook recommend or allow the practice of omitting the additional "s" in all words ending with an "s", but not in words ending with other sibilants ("z" and "x"). The 15th edition of ''
The Chicago Manual of Style ''The Chicago Manual of Style'' (abbreviated in writing as ''CMOS'' or ''CMS'', or sometimes as ''Chicago'') is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 17 editions have prescribed writi ...
'' had recommended the traditional practice, which included providing for several exceptions to accommodate spoken usage such as the omission of the extra ''s'' after a polysyllabic word ending in a sibilant, but the 16th edition no longer recommends omitting the possessive "s". Similar examples of notable names ending in an ''s'' that are often given a possessive apostrophe with no additional ''s'' include ''Dickens'' and ''Williams''. There is often a policy of leaving off the additional ''s'' on any such name, but this can prove problematic when specific names are contradictory (for example, ''
St James' Park St James' Park is a Association football, football stadium in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is the home of Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. With a seating capacity of 52,305 seats, it is the List of football stadiums in England, ei ...
'' in
NewcastleNewcastle usually refers to either: *Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne (, ), often simply Newcastle, is the most populous City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in North East England. It forms the Tyneside conurbati ...

Newcastle
he football groundand the area of ''
St. James's Park St James's Park is a park in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United ...

St. James's Park
'' in London). However, debate has been going on regarding the punctuation of St James' Park (Newcastle) for some time, unlike St James's Park (London) which is the less contentious version. For more details on practice with geographic names, see the relevant section
below Below may refer to: *Earth *Ground (disambiguation) *Soil *Floor *Bottom (disambiguation) *Less than *Temperatures below freezing *Hell or underworld People with the surname *Fred Below (1926–1988), American blues drummer *Fritz von Below (1853 ...
. Some writers like to reflect standard spoken practice in cases like these with ''sake'': ''for convenience' sake'', ''for goodness' sake'', ''for appearance' sake'', ''for compromise' sake'', etc. This punctuation is preferred in major style guides. Others prefer to add '''s'': ''for convenience's sake''. Still others prefer to omit the apostrophe when there is an ''s'' sound before ''sake'': ''for morality's sake'', but ''for convenience sake''. The
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or Americ ...

Supreme Court of the United States
is split on whether a possessive singular noun that ends with ''s'' should always have an additional ''s'' after the apostrophe, sometimes have an additional ''s'' after the apostrophe (for instance, based on whether the final sound of the original word is pronounced /s/ or /z/), or never have an additional ''s'' after the apostrophe. The informal majority view (5–4, based on past writings of the justices ) favoured the additional ''s'', but a strong minority disagrees.


Nouns ending with silent ''s'', ''x'', or ''z''

The English possessive of French nouns ending in a silent ''s'', ''x'', or ''z'' is addressed by various style guides. Certainly a sibilant is pronounced in examples like ''Descartes's'' and ''Dumas's''; the question addressed here is whether ''s'' needs to be added. Similar examples with ''x'' or ''z'': s main ingredient is truffle''; ''His 's loss went unnoticed''; ''"Verreaux('s) eagle, a large, predominantly black eagle, ''Aquila verreauxi'',..."'' ( OED, entry for "Verreaux", with silent ''x''; see Verreaux's eagle); in each of these some writers might omit the added ''s''. The same principles and residual uncertainties apply with "naturalised" English words, like ''Illinois'' and ''Arkansas''. For possessive ''plurals'' of words ending in a silent ''x'', ''z'' or ''s'', the few authorities that address the issue at all typically call for an added ''s'' and suggest that the apostrophe precede the ''s'': ''The Loucheux's homeland is in the Yukon''; ''Compare the two Dumas's literary achievements''. The possessive of a cited French title with a silent plural ending is uncertain: "'s long and complicated publication history", but "' singular effect was 'exotic primitive' ..." (with nearby sibilants ''-ce-'' in ''noces'' and ''s-'' in ''singular''). Compare treatment of other titles, above. Guides typically seek a principle that will yield uniformity, even for foreign words that fit awkwardly with standard English punctuation.


Possessives in geographic names

Place names in the United States do not use the possessive apostrophe on federal maps and signs. The
United States Board on Geographic Names The United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) is a federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government ch ...
, which has responsibility for formal naming of municipalities and geographic features, has deprecated the use of possessive apostrophes since 1890 so as not to show ownership of the place. Only five names of natural features in the US are officially spelled with a genitive apostrophe:
Martha's Vineyard Martha's Vineyard (Wampanoag The Wampanoag , also rendered Wôpanâak, are a Native American people. They were a loose confederation of several tribes in the 17th century, but today Wampanoag people encompass five officially recognized t ...
; Ike's Point, New Jersey; John E's Pond, Rhode Island; Carlos Elmer's Joshua View, Arizona; and Clark's Mountain, Oregon.US Board on Geographic Names: FAQs
Geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved on 7 April 2013.
Some municipalities, originally incorporated using the apostrophe, have dropped it in accordance with this policy; in Minnesota, for example, was originally incorporated as "Taylor's Falls". On the state level, the federal policy is not always followed:
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
's official state website has a page on
Camel's Hump State Forest Camel's Hump State Forest (alternatively Camels Hump State Forest) covers a total of in two blocks in the U.S. state of Vermont. Stevens Block comprises in Buels Gore, Vermont, Buels Gore, Fayston, Vermont, Fayston, and Starksboro, Vermont, Star ...
. Australia's
Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping ANZLIC, or The Spatial Information Council, is the peak intergovernmental organisation providing leadership in the collection, management and use of spatial information in Australia and New Zealand. It supports the establishment of a Spatial Data ...
also has a no-apostrophe policy, a practice it says goes back to the 1900s and which is generally followed around the country. On the other hand, the United Kingdom has
Bishop's Stortford Bishop's Stortford is a historic market town in Hertfordshire, England, just west of the M11 motorway on the county boundary with Essex, north-east of central London, and by rail from Liverpool Street station. Bishop's Stortford had an estima ...
,
Bishop's Castle Bishop's Castle is a market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and coll ...
and
King's Lynn King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town in Norfolk, England, north of London, north-east of Peterborough, north-north-east of Cambridge and west of Norwich. The population is 42,800. ...
(among many others) but
St Albans St Albans () is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the ...

St Albans
,
St Andrews St Andrews ( la, S. Andrea(s); sco, Saunt Aundraes; gd, Cill Rìmhinn) is a town on the east coast of Fife Fife (, ; gd, Fìobha, ; sco, Fife) is a council area{{Unreferenced, date=May 2019, bot=noref (GreenC bot) A council area is o ...

St Andrews
and St Helens. London Underground's Piccadilly line has the adjacent stations of
Earl's Court Earl's Court is a district of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is an Inner London borough The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local author ...
in
Earls Court Earl's Court is a district of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is an Inner London borough The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local author ...

Earls Court
and Barons Court. These names were mainly fixed in form many years before grammatical rules were fully standardised. While
Newcastle United Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word ...
play
football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonly called ''football'' include (known as ''soccer'' ...
at a stadium called
St James' Park St James' Park is a Association football, football stadium in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is the home of Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. With a seating capacity of 52,305 seats, it is the List of football stadiums in England, ei ...
, and
Exeter City Exeter City Football Club is a professional association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, spherical Ball (association football), ball between two teams of ...
at
St James ParkSt James Park and variants may refer to: Municipalities * St James Park, New Zealand, a suburb of Hamilton, New Zealand Football stadiums * St James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England * St James Park (Exeter), England * St. James Park (Brackley), ...
, London has a
St James's Park St James's Park is a park in the City of Westminster, central London. It is at the southernmost tip of the St James's area, which was named after a leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less. It is the most easterly of a near-continuous c ...

St James's Park
(this whole area of London is named after the parish of
St James's Church, Piccadilly St JamesSaint James or St. James may refer to: People Saints *James, brother of Jesus (died 62 or 69), also known as James the Just *James the Great (died 44), Apostle, also known as James, son of Zebedee, or Saint James the Greater **Saint Ja ...
). Modern usage has been influenced by considerations of technological convenience including the economy of typewriter ribbons and films, and similar computer character "disallowance" which tend to ignore past standards. Practice in the United Kingdom and Canada is not so uniform.


Possessives in names of organizations

Sometimes the apostrophe is omitted in the names of clubs, societies, and other organizations, even though the standard principles seem to require it: ''
Country Women's Association The Country Women's Association of Australia (CWA or CWAA) is the largest women's organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make li ...
'', but ''International Aviation Association''; ''
Magistrates' Court of Victoria The Magistrates' Court of Victoria is the lowest court in the Australian States and territories of Australia, state of Victoria (Australia), Victoria. The court possesses original jurisdiction over summary offences and indictable offence, ind ...
'', but ''
Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union The Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union (FSPDU) was an Australian trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. ...
''. Usage is variable and inconsistent. Style guides typically advise consulting an official source for the standard form of the name (as one would do if uncertain about other aspects of the spelling of the name); some tend towards greater prescriptiveness, for or against such an apostrophe. As the case of ' shows, it is not possible to analyze these forms simply as non-possessive plurals, since ''women'' is the only correct plural form of ''woman''.


Possessives in business names

Where a business name is based on a family name it should in theory take an apostrophe, but many leave it out (contrast ''
Sainsbury's J Sainsbury plc, trading as Sainsbury's, is the second largest chain of supermarket A supermarket is a self-service Retail#Types of outlets, shop offering a wide variety of food, Drink, beverages and Household goods, household products, ...

Sainsbury's
'' with ''
Harrods Harrods Limited is a department store A department store is a retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (econom ...

Harrods
''). In recent times there has been an increasing tendency to drop the apostrophe. Names based on a first name are more likely to take an apostrophe, but this is not always the case. Some business names may inadvertently spell a different name if the name with an ''s'' at the end is also a name, such as Parson. A small activist group called the
Apostrophe Protection Society The Apostrophe Protection Society was a UK society with "the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark". It was founded in 2001 by John Richards, a retired sub-editor, in response to his observations ...
has campaigned for large retailers such as Harrods,
Currys Currys (branded as Currys PC World) is a British electrical retailer operating in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, owned by Dixons Carphone. It specialises in selling home electronics and household appliances. Many of its shops i ...
, and
Selfridges Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co., is a chain of high-end department store A department store is a retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact wi ...

Selfridges
to reinstate their missing punctuation. A spokesperson for
Barclays PLC Barclays plc () is a British multinational Investment banking, investment bank and financial services company, headquartered in London, England. Apart from investment banking, Barclays is organised into four core businesses: Retail banking, per ...
stated, "It has just disappeared over the years. Barclays is no longer associated with the family name."Harrods told to put its apostrophe back
Times Online (21 August 2006).
Further confusion can be caused by businesses whose names look as if they should be pronounced differently without an apostrophe, such as Paulos Circus, and other companies that leave the apostrophe out of their logos but include it in written text, such as Cadwalader's.


Apostrophe showing omission

An apostrophe is commonly used to indicate omitted characters, normally letters: * It is used in contractions, such as ''can't'' from ''cannot'', ''it's'' from ''it is'' or ''it has'', and ''I'll'' from ''I will'' or ''I shall''. * It is used in
abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevi ...
s, as ''gov't'' for ''government''. It may indicate omitted numbers where the spoken form is also capable of omissions, as '''70s'' for ''1970s'' representing ''seventies'' for ''nineteen-seventies''. In modern usage, apostrophes are generally omitted when letters are removed from the start of a word, particularly for a
compound word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
. For example, it is not common to write '''bus'' (for ''omnibus''), '''phone'' (''telephone''), '''net'' (''Internet''). However, if the shortening is unusual, dialectal or archaic, the apostrophe may still be used to mark it (e.g., '''bout'' for ''about'', '''less'' for ''unless'', '''twas'' for ''it was''). Sometimes a misunderstanding of the original form of a word results in a non-standard contraction. A common example: '''til'' for ''until'', though ''till'' is in fact the original form, and ''until'' is derived from it. **The spelling ''fo'c's'le'', contracted from the nautical term ''forecastle'', is unusual for having three apostrophes. The spelling ''bo's'n's'' (from ''boatswain's''), as in ''Bo's'n's Mate'', also has three apostrophes, two showing omission and one possession. ''Fo'c's'le'' may also take a possessive ''s'' – as in ''the fo'c's'le's timbers'' – giving four apostrophes in one word. A word which formerly contained two apostrophes is ''sha'n't ''for ''shall not'', examples of which may be found in the older works of
P G Wodehouse Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, ( ; 15 October 188114 February 1975) was an English author and one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. Born in Guildford, the third son of a British magistrate based in Hong Kong, Wodehouse s ...
and "Frank Richards" ( Charles Hamilton), but this has been superseded by ''shan't''. **Shortenings with more apostrophes, such as ''y'all'dn't've'' (
y'all ''Y'all'' (pronounced ) is a contraction of ''you'' and ''all'', sometimes combined as ''you-all''. ''Y'all'' is the main second-person plural pronoun in Southern American English Southern American English or Southern U.S. English is a regi ...
wouldn't have), are possible, particularly in . *It is sometimes used when the normal form of an inflection seems awkward or unnatural; for example, ''KO'd'' rather than ''KOed'' (where ''KO'' is used as a verb meaning "to knock out"); "''a spare pince-nez'd man''" (cited in OED, entry for "pince-nez"; ''pince-nezed'' is also in citations). *An apostrophe's function as possessive or contractive can depend on the grammatical context: **We rehearsed for Friday's opening night. (''We rehearsed for the opening night on Friday.'') **We rehearsed because Friday's opening night. (''We rehearsed because Friday is opening night.'' "Friday's" here is a contraction of "Friday is.") *
Eye dialect Eye dialect is the use of deliberately nonstandard spelling to emphasize how a word is being pronounced. The term was coined by George Philip Krapp George Philip Krapp (1872–1934) was a scholar of English. In 1897 Krapp joined the faculty of Col ...
s use apostrophes in creating the effect of a non-standard pronunciation. *Apostrophes to omit letters in place names are common on British road signs when space does not allow for the full name for example,
Wolverhampton Wolverhampton () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...

Wolverhampton
abbreviated as "W'hampton" and
Kidderminster Kidderminster is a large market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films * ...
as "K'minster". *The
United States Board on Geographic Names The United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) is a federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government ch ...
, while discouraging possessive apostrophes in place names, allows apostrophes indicating omission, as in "Lake O' the Woods," or when normally present in a surname, as in "O'Malley Draw".


Use in forming some plurals

The apostrophe may be used for clarity with the plurals of single letters as in :"minding your p's and q's" :"A's and S's" Use of the apostrophe may be recommended only for lowercase letters. On the other hand, some style manuals and critics suggest that apostrophes should never be used for plurals, even for lower case letters.
APA style APA style is a writing style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic j ...
requires that one write: ''p''s, ''n''s, etc. An apostrophe is used by some writers to form a
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...
for abbreviations, initials including
acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...
s, and symbols, especially where adding just ''s'' rather than s'' may leave meaning ambiguous or presentation inelegant. Some specific cases: *For groups of years, most style guides prefer ''1960s'' to ''1960's'' and ''90s'' or '''90s'' to ''90's'' or '''90's''. *Several guides discourage using an apostrophe in forming the plural of numbers, for example ''1000s of years'' rather than ''1000's of years''. An alternative is to write out the numbers as words.Guide to Punctuation
Larry Trask, University of Sussex: "American usage, however, does put an apostrophe here: (A) This research was carried out in 1970's."
*The apostrophe is often used in plurals of symbols, for example "that page has too many &'s and #'s on it". Some style guides state that the apostrophe is unnecessary since there is no ambiguity but that some editors and teachers prefer this usage. The addition of an ''s'' without an apostrophe may make the text difficult to read. For abbreviations, acronyms, etc., use of ''s'' without an apostrophe is now more common than its use with an apostrophe, but for single lowercase letters, pluralization with '''s'' is usual.


Use in non-English names

Names that are not strictly native to English sometimes have an apostrophe substituted to represent other characters (see also As a mark of elision, below). *Anglicised versions of
Irish surnames A formal Irish-language personal name consists of a given name and a surname. Surnames in Irish are generally patronymic in etymology, although they are no longer literal patronyms, as most Icelandic names are. The form of a surname varies acco ...
typically contain an apostrophe after an ''O'' (in place of Ó), for example ''O'Doole''. *Some
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
and
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
surnames use an apostrophe after an ''M'', for example ''M'Gregor''. The apostrophe here may be seen as marking a contraction where the prefix ''Mc'' or ''
Mac Mac or MAC most commonly refers to: * Mac, Gaelic for "son", a Celtic onomastics, prefix to family names often appearing in Gaelic names * Mackintosh, a raincoat made of rubberized cloth * Macintosh, a brand of computers and operating systems mad ...
'' would normally appear. However, it may also arise from confusion of (''turned comma'' or "6-quote"), which was used as a substitute for superscript ''c'' when printing with hand-set metal type. Compare: M'Lean, McLean, M‘Lean.


Use in transliteration

In
transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...

transliterated
foreign words, an apostrophe may be used to separate letters or syllables that otherwise would likely be interpreted incorrectly. For example: *in the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
word , a transliteration of , the syllables are as in ''mus·haf'', not ''mu·shaf'' *in the Japanese name ''
Shin'ichi Shin'ichi or Shinichi is a masculine Japanese given name. ''Shin'' and ''ichi'' are separated and it is pronounced . Possible writings Different kanji that are pronounced are combined with the kanji for " to give different names: *真一, "true, ...
'', the apostrophe shows that the pronunciation is ''shi·n·i·chi'' (
hiragana is a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

hiragana
), where the letters ''n'' () and ''i'' () are separate
morae A mora (plural ''morae'' or ''moras''; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that describes syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress (linguistics), stress or timing (linguistics), timing. A mora is a sound which comes after ...
, rather than ''shi·ni·chi'' (). *in the Chinese
Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objecti ...

Pinyin
romanization, the apostrophe (, , géyīn fúhào, 'syllable-dividing mark') is used before a syllable starting with a vowel (''a'', ''o'', or ''e'') in a multiple-syllable word when the syllable does not start the word (which is most commonly realized as ), unless the syllable immediately follows a
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
or other dash. This is done to remove ambiguity that could arise, as in ''
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
'', which consists of the two syllables ' ("") ' (""), compared to such words as ' (""). (This ambiguity does not occur when tone marks are used: The two tone marks in ' unambiguously show that the word consists of two syllables. However, even with tone marks, the city is usually spelled with an apostrophe as '.) Furthermore, an apostrophe may be used to indicate a in transliterations. For example: *in the Arabic word , a common transliteration of (part of) ''al-qur'ān'', the apostrophe corresponds to the diacritic Maddah over the , one of the letters in the
Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة, ' or , ', ), or Arabic abjad, is the as it is codified for writing . It is written from right to left in a style and includes 28 letters. Most letters hav ...

Arabic alphabet
Rather than (
modifier letter left half ring The modifier letter left half ring ( ʿ ) is a character of the Unicode Spacing Modifier Letters Spacing Modifier Letters is a Unicode blockA Unicode block is one of several contiguous ranges of numeric character codes ( code points) of ...
), the apostrophe is sometimes used to indicate a
voiced pharyngeal fricative The voiced pharyngeal approximant or fricative is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory pho ...

voiced pharyngeal fricative
as it sounds and looks like the glottal stop to most English speakers. For example: *in the Arabic word for , the apostrophe corresponds to the Arabic letter . Finally, in "scientific" transliteration of Cyrillic script, the apostrophe usually represents the
soft sign The soft sign (Ь, ь, italics ''Ь'', ''ь'') also known as the front yer, front jer, or er malak (lit. "small er") is a letter of the Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia an ...
, though in "ordinary" transliteration it is usually omitted. For example, * "The
Ob River The Ob ( rus, Обь, p=opʲ: Ob') is a major river in Russia. It is in western Siberia; and together with Irtysh forms the world's List of rivers by length, seventh-longest river system, at . It forms at the confluence of the Biya (river), Biya a ...

Ob River
(Russian: Обь), also Ob', is a major river in western Siberia,...".


Non-standard English use

Failure to observe standard use of the apostrophe is widespread and frequently criticised as incorrect, often generating heated debate. The British founder of the
Apostrophe Protection Society The Apostrophe Protection Society was a UK society with "the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark". It was founded in 2001 by John Richards, a retired sub-editor, in response to his observations ...
earned a 2001 Ig Nobel prize for "efforts to protect, promote and defend the differences between plural and possessive". A 2004 report by British examination board OCR stated that "the inaccurate use of the apostrophe is so widespread as to be almost universal". A 2008 survey found that nearly half of the UK adults polled were unable to use the apostrophe correctly.Half of Britons struggle with the apostrophe
''The Daily Telegraph'', 11 November 2008


Superfluous apostrophes ("greengrocers' apostrophes")

Apostrophes used in a non-standard manner to form
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
s are known as ''greengrocers' apostrophes'' or ''grocers' apostrophes'', often written as ''greengrocer's apostrophes'' or ''grocer's apostrophes''. They are sometimes humorously called ''greengrocers apostrophe's'', ''rogue apostrophes'', or ''idiot's apostrophes'' (a literal translation of the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
word ''Deppenapostroph'', which criticises the misapplication of apostrophes in
Denglisch Denglisch is a pejorative term used by German Language purism, language purists describing the increased use of anglicisms and pseudo-anglicisms in the German language. It is a portmanteau of the German words german: Deutsch, label=none (''Ge ...
). The practice, once common and acceptable (see Historical development), comes from the identical sound of the
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
and
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
forms of most English
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
s. It is often criticised as a form of
hypercorrection In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language ...
coming from a widespread ignorance of the proper use of the apostrophe or of punctuation in general.
Lynne Truss Lynne Truss (born 31 May 1955) is an English author, journalist, novelist, and radio broadcasting, radio broadcaster and radio drama, dramatist. She is arguably best known for her championing of correctness and aesthetics in the English languag ...

Lynne Truss
, author of ''
Eats, Shoots & Leaves ''Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation'' is a non-fiction book written by Lynne Truss, the former host of BBC Radio 4's ''Cutting a Dash'' programme. In the book, published in 2003, Truss bemoans the state of punctua ...
'', points out that before the 19th century it was standard orthography to use the apostrophe to form a plural of a foreign-sounding word that ended in a vowel (e. g., ''banana's'', ''folio's'', ''logo's'', ''quarto's'', ''pasta's'', ''ouzo's'') to clarify pronunciation. Truss says this usage is no longer considered proper in formal writing. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's letter to EU President Donald Tusk of 19 October 2019 regarding a Brexit extension contained a well-publicised and ridiculed grocer's apostrophe. He wrote ''"in this continent
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
our people's (sic) share"''. The term is believed to have been coined in the middle of the 20th century by a teacher of languages working in
Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English districts by population, tenth largest English district by population, and its ...

Liverpool
, at a time when such mistakes were common in the handwritten signs and advertisements of
greengrocer A greengrocer is a person who owns or operates a shop selling primarily produce, fruit and vegetables. The term may also be used to refer to a shop selling primarily produce. It is used predominantly in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the ...
s (e. g., ''Apple's 1/- a pound, Orange's 1/6 a pound''). Some have argued that its use in mass communication by employees of well-known companies has led to the less literate assuming it to be standard and adopting the habit themselves. The same use of apostrophe before
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or ph ...

plural
-s forms is sometimes made by non-native speakers of English. For example, in
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...

Dutch
, the apostrophe is inserted before the ''s'' when pluralising most words ending in a vowel or ''y'' for example, (English ''babies'') and (English ''radios''). This often produces so-called "" errors when carried over into English.
Hyperforeignism A hyperforeignism is a type of qualitative hypercorrection that involves speakers misidentifying the distribution of a pattern found in loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can ...
has been formalised in some pseudo-
anglicism An anglicism is a word or construction borrowed from English by another language. With the rise in Anglophone media and global spread of British and US cultures in the 20th and 21st centuries, many English terms have entered popular usage in o ...
s. For example, the French word (from English ''pin'') is used (with the apostrophe in both singular and plural) for
collectible A collectable (collectible or collector's item) is any object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** Entity, something that is tangible and within the grasp of the senses ** Object ( ...
lapel pin A lapel pin, also known as an enamel pin, is a small brooch, pin worn on clothing, often on the Jacket lapel, lapel of a jacket, attached to a bag, or displayed on a piece of fabric. Lapel pins can be ornamental or can indicate the wearer's affil ...
s. Similarly, there is an
Andorra Andorra (, ; ), officially the Principality of Andorra ( ca, Principat d'Andorra), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French ( ...

Andorra
n football club called (after such British clubs as Rangers F.C.) and a Japanese dance group called Super Monkey's.


Omission

In the UK there is a tendency to drop apostrophes in many commonly used names such as St Annes, St Johns Lane, and so on. UK supermarket chain
Tesco Tesco plc () is a British multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a ...

Tesco
omits the mark where standard practice would require it. Signs in Tesco advertise (among other items) . In his book '' Troublesome Words'', author
Bill Bryson William McGuire Bryson (; born 8 December 1951) is an American–British author of books on travel, the English language, science, and other non-fiction topics. Born in the United States, he has been a resident of Britain for most of his adult ...

Bill Bryson
lambastes Tesco for this, stating that "the mistake is inexcusable, and those who make it are linguistic
Neanderthal Neanderthals (, also Neandertals, ''Homo neanderthalensis'' or ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis'') are an extinct species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an org ...
s." The
United States Board on Geographic Names The United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) is a federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government ch ...
discourages the use of possessive apostrophes in geographic names (see above), though state agencies do not always conform; Vermont's official state website provides information concerning
Camel's Hump State Forest Camel's Hump State Forest (alternatively Camels Hump State Forest) covers a total of in two blocks in the U.S. state of Vermont. Stevens Block comprises in Buels Gore, Vermont, Buels Gore, Fayston, Vermont, Fayston, and Starksboro, Vermont, Star ...
. The Geographical Names Board of
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
, Australia, excludes possessive apostrophes from place names, along with other punctuation.


Particular cases

George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
, a proponent of
English spelling reform For centuries, there has been a movement to spelling reform, reform the spelling of the English language. It seeks to change English orthography so that it is more consistent, matches pronunciation better, and follows the alphabetic principle. Commo ...
on phonetic principles, argued that the apostrophe was mostly redundant. He did not use it for spelling ''cant'', ''hes'', etc., in many of his writings. He did, however, allow ''I'm'' and ''it's''. Hubert Selby Jr. used a slash instead of an apostrophe mark for contractions and did not use an apostrophe at all for possessives.
Lewis Carroll Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (; 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children's fiction, notably ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' and its sequel ''Through the Looking-Glass'' ...

Lewis Carroll
made greater use of apostrophes, and frequently used ''sha'n't'', with an apostrophe in place of the elided ''ll'' as well as the more usual ''o''. These authors' usages have not become widespread.


Apostrophes in band names

The British pop group
Hear'Say Hear'Say were a British pop group. They were created through the ITV reality TV show '' Popstars'' in February 2001, the first UK series of the international '' Popstars'' franchise. The group, who were signed to Polydor Records Polydor Re ...
famously made unconventional use of an apostrophe in its name. Truss comments that "the naming of Hear'Say in 2001 was ..a significant milestone on the road to punctuation anarchy". The apostrophe in the name of rock band
The La's The La's were an English rock band from Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. Its population in 2019 was approximately , making it the List of English districts ...

The La's
is often thought to be misused, but in fact it marks omission of the letter ''d''. The name comes from the
Scouse Scouse (; formally known as Liverpool English or Merseyside English) is an accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics) ...
slang for ''lads''.


Criticism

Over the years, the use of apostrophes has been criticised. George Bernard Shaw called them "uncouth bacilli", referring to the apostrophe-like shape of many
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
. The author and language commentator
Anu Garg Anu Garg (born April 5, 1967) is an American author and speaker. He is also the founder of Wordsmith.org, an online community comprising word lovers from an estimated 195 countries. His books explore the joy of words. He has authored several books ...
, in a humorous but well-argued discussion, has called for the abolition of the apostrophe, stating "Some day this world would be free of metastatic cancers, narcissistic con men, and the apostrophe." In his book ''American Speech'', linguist Steven Byington stated of the apostrophe that "the language would be none the worse for its abolition". Adrian Room, in his ''
English Journal ''English Journal'' (previously ''The English Journal'') is the official publication of the Secondary Education Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education The International Standard Classificat ...
'' article "Axing the Apostrophe", argued that apostrophes are unnecessary, and context will resolve any ambiguity. In a letter to the ''English Journal'', Peter Brodie stated that apostrophes are "largely decorative ... rarely clarify meaning". John C. Wells, emeritus professor of phonetics at
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
, says the apostrophe is "a waste of time". The Apostrophe Protection Society, founded by retired journalist John Richards in 2001, was brought to a full stop in 2019, Richards (then aged 96) accepting that "the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!".


Non-English use


As a mark of elision

In many languages, especially European languages, the apostrophe is used to indicate the
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
of one or more sounds, as in English. *In
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...

Albanian
the apostrophe is used to show that a vowel has been omitted from words, especially in different forms of verbs and in some forms of personal pronoun. For example, : them (from : them), (from ). It is used too in some of the forms of possessive pronouns, for example: (from ). *In
Afrikaans Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most po ...
, as in Dutch, the apostrophe is used to show that letters have been omitted from words. The most common use is in the indefinite article , which is a contraction of ''een'' meaning 'one' (the number). As the initial ''e'' is omitted and cannot be capitalised, the second word in a sentence that begins with is capitalised instead. For example: , 'A tree is green'. In addition, the apostrophe is used for plurals and diminutives where the root ends with long
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s, e.g. , , , , etc. * In
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
, ,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
, Ligurian, and
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
word sequences such as , (often shortened to ''maître d'', when used in English), and the final vowel in the first word (''de'' 'of', ''le'' 'the', etc.) is elided because the word that follows it starts with a vowel or a . Similarly, French has instead of ('that he'), instead of ('it is or it's'), and so on. Catalan, French, Italian, and Occitan surnames sometimes contain apostrophes of elision, e.g. , *In
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, apostrophes are sometimes seen on
commercial Commercial may refer to: * a dose of advertising conveyed through media (such as - for example - radio or television) ** Radio advertisement ** Television advertisement * (adjective for:) commerce, a system of voluntary exchange of products and se ...

commercial
materials. One might commonly see ('Take me with ) next to a stand with advertisement leaflets; that would be written in standard orthography. As in German, the apostrophe must not be used to indicate the possessive, except when there is already an ''s'', ''x'' or ''z'' present in the base form, as in ('the Book of Esajas'). *In
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, as in Afrikaans, the apostrophe is used to indicate omitted characters. For example, the indefinite article can be shortened to , and the definite article shortened to . When this happens in the first word of a sentence, the ''second'' word of the sentence is capitalised. In general, this way of using the apostrophe is considered non-standard, except as '' genitivus temporalis'' in , , , (for , 'at morning, at afternoon, at evening, at night') and in some frozen place names such as ''
's-Hertogenbosch s-Hertogenbosch (; french: Bois-le-Duc, ; german: Herzogenbusch), colloquially known as Den Bosch (), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and ...
'' (
possessive A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the wor ...
, lit. "The
Duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a , or of a member of , or . As rulers, dukes are ranked below s, s, s, s, and sovereign s. As royalty or nobility, they are ranked below princes of nobility and grand dukes. The title comes ...

Duke
's forest"), ''‌'s-Gravenhage'' (traditional name of
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ed ...

The Hague
, lit. "The
Count Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility ...

Count
's hedge"), ''‌'s-Gravenbrakel'' (
Braine-le-Comte Braine-le-Comte (; nl, ’s-Gravenbrakel) is a Walloon municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by natio ...
, in Belgium), ''‌'s-Hertogenrade'' (
Herzogenrath Herzogenrath (; Ripuarian: ''Herzeroa''; li, Hertseraoj; nl, ’s-Hertogenrade) is a municipality in the district of Aachen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia (german: Nordrhein-Westfalen, ; Low Franconian ...
, in Germany), etc. In addition, the apostrophe is used for plurals where the singulars end with long
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s, e.g. , ; and for the genitive of proper names ending with these vowels, e.g. , . These are in fact elided vowels; use of the apostrophe prevents spellings like and . However, most
diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which a prefix A prefix is an aff ...
s do not use an apostrophe where the plural forms would; producing spellings such as and . *In
Esperanto Esperanto ( or ) is the world's most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language An international auxiliary language (sometimes abbreviated as IAL or auxlang) is a meant for communication between people from different nations ...
, the limits the elision mark to the definite article (from ) and singular nominative nouns ( from , 'heart'). This is mostly confined to poetry and songs. Idiomatic phrases such as (from , 'thanks to') and (from 'of the') are nonetheless frequent. In-word elision is usually marked with a
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
, as in (from , 'Dr'). Some early guides used and advocated the use of apostrophes between word parts, to aid recognition of such
compound word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
s as , 'guitarist'; but in the latter case, modern usage is to use either a hyphen or a middle dot when disambiguation is necessary, as in ''ĉas-hundo'' or ''ĉas·hundo'', "a hunting dog", not to be mispronounced as ''ĉa.ŝun.do''. * French feminine singular
possessive adjective Possessive determiners (from la, possessivus, translit=; grc, κτητικός / ktētikós - en. ktetic Lallu) are determiners A determiner, also called determinative ( abbreviated ), is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language c ...
s do not undergo elision, but change to the masculine form instead: ' preceding ' becomes ' ('my church'). **
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
's
Bill 101 Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable instrument, negotiable promissory note, made by a bank or other licensed author ...
, which dictates the use of French in the province, prohibits the use of apostrophes in proper names in which it would not be used in proper French (thus the international donut chain
Tim Hortons Tim Hortons Inc. is a Canadian multinational fast food restaurant chain. Based in Toronto, Tim Hortons serves coffee, doughnuts and other fast food items. It is Canada's largest quick-service restaurant chain, with 4,846 restaurants in 14 ...

Tim Hortons
, originally spelled with the possessive apostrophe as Tim Horton's, was required to drop the apostrophe in Quebec to comply with Bill 101). *
Galician language Galician (, ; ) is an Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent a ...
standard admits the use of apostrophe () for contractions that normally don't use (e.g.: de + a= da) it but when the second element is a proper noun, mostly a title: (the hero of the
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí ...
). They are also used to reproduce oral ellisions and, as stated below, to join (or split) commercial names of popular public establishments, namely bars and in masculine (, The pot). * In
Ganda Ganda may refer to: Places * Ganda, Angola * Ganda, Tibet, China * Ganda, the ancient Latin name of Ghent, a city in Belgium Other uses * Baganda or Ganda, a people of Uganda ** Luganda or Ganda language, a language of Uganda * ''Ganda'' and "Gan ...
, when a word ending with a
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, the final vowel of the first word is
elided In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are r ...
and the initial vowel of the second word lengthened in compensation. When the first word is a
monosyllableIn linguistics, a monosyllable is a word or utterance of only one syllable. It is most commonly studied in the fields of phonology and Morphology (linguistics), morphology and it has no semantic content. It has originated from the Greek language. "Y ...
, this elision is represented in the orthography with an apostrophe: in ' 'the father of the children', ' ('of') becomes ''w''; in ' ('who is it?'), ' ('who') becomes ''y''. But the final vowel of a polysyllable is always written, even if it is elided in speech: ' ('this man'), not *', because ' ('man') is a polysyllable. * In German an apostrophe is used almost exclusively to indicate omitted letters. It must not be used for plurals or most of the possessive forms. The only exceptions are the possessive cases of names ending in an "s"-sound as in ', or "to prevent ambiguities" in all other possessive cases of names, as in ' (referring to the female name ', not the male name '). The English/Saxon style of using an apostrophe for possession was introduced after the spelling reform, but is strongly disagreed on by native speakers, and discouraged. Although possessive usage (beyond the exceptions) is widespread, it is often deemed incorrect. The German equivalent of "greengrocers' apostrophes" would be the derogatory ' ('idiot's apostrophe'; ). * In modern printings of
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
, apostrophes are also used to mark elision. Some Ancient Greek words that end in short vowels elide when the next word starts with a vowel. For example, many Ancient Greek authors would write (') for (') and (') for ('). Such modern usage should be carefully distinguished from
polytonic Greek Greek orthographyThe orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean language, Mycenaean, was written in Linear ...
's native rough and
smooth breathing The smooth breathing ( grc, ψιλὸν πνεῦμα, psilòn pneûma; ell, ψιλή ''psilí''; la, spīritus lēnis) is a diacritical mark A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph ...
marks, which usually appear as a form of rounded apostrophe. * In
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, the ''
geresh Geresh (׳ in he, גֶּרֶשׁ‎ or ‎ , or medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past ...
'' (׳), often typed as an apostrophe, is used to denote initialisms. A double ''geresh'' (״), known by the dual form
gershayim Gershayim ( he, גֵּרְשַׁיִם, without niqqud ), also occasionally grashayim. ( he, גְּרָשַׁיִם), is two distinct Typography, typographical marks in the Hebrew language. The name literally means "double geresh". Punctuation ma ...
, is used to denote
acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...
s; it is inserted before (i.e., to the right of) the last letter of the acronym. Examples: (abbreviation for , 'professor', '
professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, hig ...

professor
'); (', ' P.S.'). The ''geresh'' is also used to indicate the elision of a sound; however, this use is much less frequent, and confined to the purpose of imitating a natural, informal utterance, for example: (' – short for , ', 'I am/do not'). *In Irish, the past tense of verbs beginning with a vowel, or with ''fh'' followed by a vowel, begins with ''d' ''(elision of ''do''), for example becomes ('opened') and becomes ('returned'). The copula is often elided to '''s'', and ('to'), ('my') etc. are elided before ''f'' and vowels. *In
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
it is used for elision with pronouns, as in instead of ; with articles, as in instead of ; and for truncation, as in instead of . Stylistically, sentences beginning É (as in ) are often rendered as E' in newspapers, to minimise
leading In typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by ...

leading
(inter-line spacing). *In modern
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the ...
, the apostrophe marks that a word has been contracted, such as ' from ' ('have/has not'). Unlike English and French, such elisions are not accepted as part of standard orthography but are used to create a more "oral style" in writing. The apostrophe is also used to mark the genitive for words that end in an -s sound: words ending in -s, -x, and -z, some speakers also including words ending in the sound . As Norwegian doesn't form the plural with -s, there is no need to distinguish between an -s forming the possessive and the -s forming the plural. Therefore, we have ' ('man') and ' ('man's'), without apostrophe, but ' ('naval pilot') and '' ('naval pilot's'). Indicating the possessive for the two former American presidents named George Bush, whose names end in , could be written as both ' (simply adding an -s to the name) and ' (adding an apostrophe to the end of the name). * In
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
the apostrophe is also used in a few combinations, such as ('water tower'), ('guineafowl'), (a plant species, ), etc. Portuguese has many contractions between prepositions and articles or pronouns (like ''na'' for ''em'' + ''a''), but these are written without an apostrophe. * Modern Spanish no longer uses the apostrophe to indicate elision in standard writing, although it can sometimes be found in older poetry for that purpose. Instead Spanish writes out the spoken elision in full (', ') except for the contraction ' for ' + ', which uses no apostrophe. Spanish also switches to a form that is identical to the masculine article (but is actually a variant of the feminine article) immediately before a feminine noun beginning with a stressed ''a'' instead of writing (or saying) an elision: ', ', and ' but ' and '. This reflects the origin of the Spanish definite articles from the Latin demonstratives '. *In
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
, the apostrophe marks an elision, such as ', short for ' ('in the city'), to make the text more similar to the spoken language. This is relaxed style, fairly rarely used, and would not be used by traditional newspapers in political articles, but could be used in entertainment related articles and similar. The formal way to denote elision in Swedish is by using colon, e.g. ' for ' which is rarely spelled out in full. The apostrophe must not be used to indicate the possessive except – although not mandatory – when there is already an ''s'', ''x'' or ''z'' present in the base form, as in '. *
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
uses the apostrophe to mark elision of the definite article ('the') following a vowel (''a'', ''e'', ''i'', ''o'', ''u'', ''y'', or, in Welsh, ''w''), as in , 'to the house'. It is also used with the particle , such as with , 'she is'.


As a glottal stop

Several languages and transliteration systems use the apostrophe or some similar mark to indicate a , sometimes considering it a letter of the alphabet: *In several
Finno-Ugric languages Finno-Ugric ( or ; ''Fenno-Ugric'') or Finno-Ugrian (''Fenno-Ugrian''), is a traditional grouping of all languages in the Uralic language family The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family A langua ...

Finno-Ugric languages
, such as
Estonian Estonian may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe *Estonians, people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent *Estonian language *Estonian cuisine *Estonian culture See also

* * La ...
and
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
; for example in the Finnish word ', being the genitive or accusative of ' ('raw'). *In Guarani, it is called ' , and used in the words ' (language, to speak), ' (grass), ' (sterile). *In
Hawaiian Hawaiian may refer to: * Hawaii state residents, regardless of ancestry * Native Hawaiians, the current term for the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants * Hawaiian language Historic uses * things and people of the Kingdo ...
, the '''' , an inverted apostrophe, is often rendered as . It is considered a letter of the alphabet. *
Mayan Mayan most commonly refers to: * Maya peoples, various indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica and northern Central America * Maya civilization, pre-Columbian culture of Mesoamerica and northern Central America * Mayan languages, language family spoken i ...
. *In the
Tongan language Tongan ( or ; ') is an Austronesian language The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, si ...
, the apostrophe is called a ' and is the last letter of the alphabet. It represents the glottal stop. Like the okina, it is inverted. *Various other
Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign ...
, such as
Samoan Samoan may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the Samoan Islands, an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean ** Something of, from, or related to Samoa, a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands ** Something of, from, o ...
, Tahitian, and
ChamorroChamorro may refer to: * Chamorro language, an Austronesian language indigenous to The Marianas * Chamorro people, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific * Chamorro Party, a 19th-century Portuguese political party (See L ...
. *
Tetum Tetum ( pt, Tetum ,; tet, Tetun ) is an Austronesian language The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communicati ...
, one of the official languages of
East Timor East Timor () or Timor-Leste (; tet, Timór Lorosa'e), officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste ( pt, República Democrática de Timor-Leste, tet, Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste), is an island country An island country o ...

East Timor
. *The
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
ian native
Tupi language Old Tupi or classical Tupi (also spelled as Tupí) is an extinct Tupian language The Tupi or Tupian language family comprises some 70 languages spoken in South America, of which the best known are Tupi language, Tupi proper and Guarani langua ...
. * Mossi (Mooré), a language of
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso (, ; ) is a landlocked country in West Africa that covers an area of around and is bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwe ...

Burkina Faso
. *In Võro, the apostrophe is used in parallel with the letter ''q'' as symbol of plural. *Several fictional languages such as Klingon language, Klingon, D'ni language, D'ni, Mando'a or Na'vi language, Na'vi. The apostrophe represents sounds resembling the glottal stop in the Turkic languages and in some romanizations of Semitic languages, including Arabic language, Arabic and Hebrew language, Hebrew. In typography, this function may be performed by the closing single quotation mark. In that case, the letter ''ayin, 'ayn'' (Arabic ع and Hebrew ע) is correspondingly transliterated with the opening single quotation mark.


As a mark of palatalization or non-palatalization

Some languages and transliteration systems use the apostrophe to mark the presence, or the lack of, palatalization (phonetics), palatalization: *In Belarusian language, Belarusian and Ukrainian language, Ukrainian, the apostrophe is used between a consonant and a following "soft" (Iotation, iotified) vowel (Be.: е, ё, ю, я; Uk.: є, ї, ю, я) to indicate that ''no'' palatalization of the preceding consonant takes place, and the vowel is pronounced in the same way as at the beginning of a word. It therefore marks a morpheme boundary before /j/ and, in Ukrainian, is a letter of the alphabet (as the hard sign in Russian is) rather than a simple punctuation mark in English, as it is not a punctuation mark in Ukrainian. It appears frequently in Ukrainian, as, for instance, in the words: <> [] 'five', <> [] 'departure', <> [] 'united', <> [] 'to clear up, explain', <> [] play (drama), etc. *In Russian and some derived alphabets, the same function has been served by the hard sign (ъ, formerly called ''yer''). But the apostrophe saw some use as a substitute after 1918, when Soviet authorities enforced an orthographic reform by confiscating movable type bearing the hard sign from stubborn printing houses in Petrograd. *In some Latin transliterations of certain Cyrillic alphabets (for Belarusian language, Belarusian, Russian, and Ukrainian language, Ukrainian), the apostrophe is used to replace the
soft sign The soft sign (Ь, ь, italics ''Ь'', ''ь'') also known as the front yer, front jer, or er malak (lit. "small er") is a letter of the Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia an ...
(ь, indicating palatalization of the preceding consonant), e.g., ''Русь'' is transliterated ''Kievan Rus', Rus''' according to the BGN/PCGN system. (The Prime (symbol)#Use in linguistics, prime symbol is also used for the same purpose.) Some of these transliteration schemes use a Modifier letter double apostrophe, double apostrophe ( ˮ ) to represent the apostrophe in Ukrainian and Belarusian text and the hard sign (ъ) in Russian text, e.g. Ukrainian ' ('Slavic') is transliterated as '. *Some Karelian language, Karelian orthographies use an apostrophe to indicate palatalization, e.g. ' ('to give advice'), ' ('just (like)'), ' ('to revive').


To separate morphemes

Some languages use the apostrophe to separate the root (linguistics), root of a word and its affixes, especially if the root is foreign and unassimilated. (For another kind of morphemic separation see #Miscellaneous uses in other languages, pinyin, below.) * In
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
an apostrophe is sometimes used to join the enclitic definite article to words of foreign origin, or to other words that would otherwise look awkward. For example, one would write ' to mean "the IP address". There is some variation in what is considered "awkward enough" to warrant an apostrophe; for instance, long-established words such as ' ('company') or ' ('level') might be written ' and ', but will generally be seen without an apostrophe. Due to Danish influence, this usage of the apostrophe can also be seen in Norwegian, but is non-standard – a hyphen should be used instead: e.g. (the CD). *In
Estonian Estonian may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe *Estonians, people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent *Estonian language *Estonian cuisine *Estonian culture See also

* * La ...
, apostrophes can be used in the declension of some foreign names to separate the stem from any declension endings; e.g., ' (genitive case) or ' (illative case) of ''Monet'' (name of the famous painter). *In
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
, apostrophes are used in the declension of foreign names or loan words that end in a consonant when written but are pronounced with a vowel ending, e.g. ' ('in a show'), ' ('to Bordeaux'). For Finnish as well as Swedish language, Swedish, there is a closely related colon (punctuation)#Suffix separator, use of the colon. *In Polish language, Polish, the apostrophe is used exclusively for marking inflections of words and word-like elements (but not
acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...
s – a hyphen is used instead) whose spelling conflicts with the normal rules of inflection. This mainly affects foreign words and names. For instance, one would correctly write ' for "Al Gore's campaign". In this example, ' is spelled without an apostrophe, since its spelling and pronunciation fit into normal Polish rules; but ' needs the apostrophe, because ''e'' disappears from the pronunciation, changing the inflection pattern. This rule is often misunderstood as calling for an apostrophe after ''all'' foreign words, regardless of their pronunciation, yielding the incorrect ', for example. The effect is akin to the greengrocers' apostrophe (see above). *In Turkish language, Turkish, noun#Proper nouns and common nouns, proper nouns are capitalised and an apostrophe is inserted between the noun and any following inflectional suffix, e.g. ' ("in Istanbul"), contrasting with ' ("in school", ' is a common noun) and ' ('Istanbulite', ''-lu'' is a derivational suffix). *In
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
the apostrophe is used with infixed pronouns in order to distinguish them from the preceding word (e.g. ', 'and my sister' as opposed to ', 'about a sister').


Miscellaneous uses in other languages

*In Breton language, Breton, the combination ' is used for the consonant (like ''ch'' in English ''Loch Ness''), while ' is used for the consonant (as in French ' or English ''she''). *In Czech language, Czech, an apostrophe is used for writing to indicate spoken or informal language where the writer wants to express the natural way of informal speech, but it should not be used in formal text or text of a serious nature. E.g., instead of ' ('he read'), the word form ' is used. ' is the informal variant of the verb form ', at least in some varieties. These two words are the same in meaning, but to use the informal form gives the text a more natural tone, as though a friend were talking to you. Furthermore, the same as in the Slovak case above holds for lowercase ''t'' and ''d'', and for the two-digit year notation. *In
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
, one of the consonant gradation patterns is the change of a ''k'' into a Hiatus (linguistics), hiatus, e.g. ' → ' ('a pile' → 'a pile's'). This hiatus has to be indicated in spelling with an apostrophe if a long vowel or a diphthong would be immediately followed by the final vowel, e.g. ' → ', ' → '. (This is in contrast to compound words, where the equivalent problem is solved with a
hyphen The hyphen is a punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of written text, ...
, e.g. ', 'land area'.) Similarly, the apostrophe is used to mark the hiatus (linguistics), hiatus (contraction) that occurs in poetry, e.g. ' for ' ('where is'). *Galician cuisine, Galician restaurants sometimes use ' in their names instead of the standard article ' ('the'). *In
Ganda Ganda may refer to: Places * Ganda, Angola * Ganda, Tibet, China * Ganda, the ancient Latin name of Ghent, a city in Belgium Other uses * Baganda or Ganda, a people of Uganda ** Luganda or Ganda language, a language of Uganda * ''Ganda'' and "Gan ...
, ' (pronounced ) is used in place of ''ŋ'' on keyboards where this character is not available. The apostrophe distinguishes it from the letter combination ' (pronounced ), which has separate use in the language. Compare this with the Swahili usage below. *In
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, the ''
geresh Geresh (׳ in he, גֶּרֶשׁ‎ or ‎ , or medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past ...
'' (a diacritic similar to the apostrophe and often represented by one) is used for several purposes other than to mark an elision: **As an adjacent to letters to show sounds that are not represented in the Hebrew alphabet: Sounds such as (English ''j'' as in ''job''), (English ''th'' as in ''thigh''), and (English ''ch'' as in ''check'') are indicated using ג, ת, and צ with a ''
geresh Geresh (׳ in he, גֶּרֶשׁ‎ or ‎ , or medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past ...
'' (informally ''chupchik''). For example, the name ''George'' is spelled in Hebrew (with representing the first and last consonants). **To denote a Hebrew numerals, Hebrew numeral (e.g., , which stands for '50') **To denote a Hebrew letter which stands for itself (e.g., – the letter ''mem'') **Gershayim (a double geresh) to denote a Hebrew letter name (e.g., – the letter ''lamed'') **Another (rarer) use of geresh is to denote the last syllable (which in some cases, but not all, is a suffix) in some words of Yiddish etymology, origin (e.g., ). **In the Middle Ages and the Early modern period, gershayim were also used to denote foreign words, as well as a means of Emphasis (typography), emphasis. * In Italian, an apostrophe is sometimes used as a substitute for a Grave accent, grave or an acute accent. This may be done after an initial E or an accented final vowel (when writing in all-capitals), or when the proper form of the letter is unavailable for technical reasons. So a sentence beginning ('It is true that...') may be written as . This form is often seen in newspapers, as it is the only case of an accent above the cap height and its omission permits the text to be more closely spaced (
leading In typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by ...

leading
). Less commonly, a forename like might be rendered as ''Niccolo'', or ''NICCOLO''; ''perché'', as ''perche'', or ''PERCHE''. This applies only to machine or computer writing, in the absence of a suitable keyboard. * In Jèrriais, one of the uses of the apostrophe is to mark gemination, or consonant length: For example, ' represents , ' , ' , ' , and ' (contrasted with , , , , and ). * In Lithuanian language, Lithuanian, the apostrophe is occasionally used to add a Lithuanized ending on an international word, e.g.- "parking'as", "Skype'as", "Facebook'as". * In standard Lojban orthography, the apostrophe is a letter in its own right (called ) that can appear only between two vowels, and is phonemically realised as either voiceless glottal fricative, [h] or, more rarely, voiceless dental fricative, [θ]. *In Macedonian language, Macedonian the apostrophe is sometimes used to represent the sound schwa, which can be found on dialectal levels, but not in the Standard Macedonian. *In Slovak language, Slovak, the caron over lowercase ''t'', ''d'', ''l'', and uppercase ''L'' consonants resembles an apostrophe, for example, ''ď'', ''ť'', ''ľ'', and ''Ľ''. This is especially so in certain common typographic renderings. But it is non-standard to use an apostrophe instead of the caron. There is also ''l'' with an acute accent: ''ĺ'', ''Ĺ''. In Slovak the apostrophe is properly used only to indicate
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, it is also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are ...
in certain words (', as an abbreviated form of ' ('you are'), or ' for ' ('up')); however, these elisions are restricted to poetry (with a few exceptions). Moreover, the apostrophe is also used before a two-digit year number (to indicate the omission of the first two digits): ' (usually used for 1987). * In Swahili language, Swahili, an apostrophe after ' shows that there is no sound of after the sound; that is, that the ' is pronounced as in English ''singer'', not as in English ''finger''. * In Switzerland, the apostrophe is used as thousands separator alongside the fixed space (e.g., 2'000'000 or for two million) in all four languages of Switzerland, national languages. * In the new Uzbek alphabet, Uzbek Latin alphabet adopted in 2000, the apostrophe serves as a diacritic, diacritical mark to distinguish different phonemes written with the same letter: it differentiates ' (corresponding to Cyrillic ''Short U (Cyrillic), ў'') from ', and ' (Cyrillic ''Ghayn, ғ'') from '. This avoids the use of special characters, allowing Uzbek to be typed with ease in ordinary ASCII on any Latin keyboard. In addition, a postvocalic apostrophe in Uzbek represents the glottal stop phoneme derived from Arabic ''hamzah'' or ''Ayin, 'ayn'', replacing Cyrillic ''Yer, ъ''. *In English Yorkshire dialect, the apostrophe is used to represent the word ''the'', which is contracted to a more glottal (or 'unreleased') /t/ sound. Most users will write ''in t'barn'' ('in the barn'), ''on t'step'' ('on the step'); and those unfamiliar with Yorkshire speech will often make these sound like ''intuh barn'' and ''ontuh step''. A more accurate rendition might be ''in't barn'' and ''on't step'', though even this does not truly convey correct Yorkshire pronunciation as the ''t'' is more like a . *In the pinyin (hànyǔ pīnyīn) system of romanization for Standard Chinese, an apostrophe is often loosely said to separate syllables in a word where ambiguity could arise. Example: the standard romanization for the name of the city ''Xī'ān'' includes an apostrophe to distinguish it from a single-syllable word '. More strictly, however, it is standard to place an apostrophe only before every ''a'', ''e'', or ''o'' that starts a new syllable after the first if it is not preceded by a hyphen or a dash. Examples: ''Tiananmen, Tiān'ānmén'', ''Yǎ'ān''; but simply ''Jǐnán'', in which the syllables are ''ji'' and ''nan'', since the absence of an apostrophe shows that the syllables are not ''jin'' and ''an'' (contrast ''Jīn'ān''). This is a kind of morpheme-separation marking (see #To separate morphemes, above). *In the largely superseded Wade-Giles, Wade–Giles romanization for Standard Chinese, an apostrophe marks Aspiration (phonetics), aspiration of the preceding consonant sound. Example: in ''tsê'' (pinyin ''ze'') the consonant represented by ''ts'' is unaspirated, but in ''ts'ê'' (pinyin ''ce'') the consonant represented by ''ts'' is aspirated. Some academic users of the system write this character as a spiritus asper () or single left (opening) quotation mark (‘). *In some systems of romanization for the Japanese, the apostrophe is used between Mora (linguistics), moras in ambiguous situations, to differentiate between, for example, ' and ' + '. (This is similar to the practice in Pinyin mentioned above.) *In science fiction and fantasy, the apostrophe is often used in fictional names, sometimes to indicate a (for example Mitth'raw'nuruodo in ''Star Wars''), but also sometimes simply for decoration.


Typographic form

The shape of the apostrophe originated in manuscript writing, as a point with a downwards tail curving clockwise. This form was inherited by the ''typographic apostrophe'', , also known as the ''typeset apostrophe'' (or, informally, the ''curly apostrophe''). Later sans-serif typefaces had stylised apostrophes with a more geometric or simplified form, but usually retaining the same directional bias as a closing quotation mark. With the invention of the typewriter, a "neutral" or "straight" shape quotation mark, , was created to represent a number of different glyphs with a single keystroke: the apostrophe, both the opening and the closing single quotation marks, the single prime (symbol), primes, and on some typewriters even the exclamation point (by backspacing and overprinting with a period). This is known as the ''typewriter apostrophe'' or ''vertical apostrophe''. The same convention was adopted for double quotation marks (). Both simplifications carried over to computer keyboards and the ASCII character set.


Informal use in records of measurement

Formally, the symbol used to represent a Foot (unit), foot of length, depth, or height, is (prime) and that for the inch is (double prime). (For example, in the USA and UK, the notation signifies 5 feet and 7 inches). Similarly, the prime symbol is the formal representation of a minute of arc (1/60 of a Degree (angle), degree in geometry and geomatics), and double prime represents a second of arc (for example, 17°54'32" represents 17 degrees 54 minutes and 32 seconds). Because of the very close similarity of the typewriter apostrophe and typewriter double quote to prime and double prime, substitution in informal contexts is ubiquitous but they are deprecated in contexts where proper typography is important.


Unicode

Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requireme ...

Unicode
defines three apostrophe characters: * :Typewriter or ASCII apostrophe. * :Typographic ('curly') apostrophe. Serves as both an apostrophe and closing single quotation mark. This is the preferred character to use for apostrophe according to the Unicode standard. The closing single quote and the apostrophe were unified in Unicode 2.1 "to correct problems in the mapping tables from CP1252, Windows and Mac Roman, Macintosh code pages." * :Modifier letters in Unicode generally are considered part of a word, this is preferred when the apostrophe is considered as a letter in its own right, rather than punctuation that separates letters. Thus this letter apostrophe may be used, for example, in the transliteration of the Arabic (''hamza'') or the Cyrillic "
soft sign The soft sign (Ь, ь, italics ''Ь'', ''ь'') also known as the front yer, front jer, or er malak (lit. "small er") is a letter of the Cyrillic script The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia an ...
", or in some orthographies such as ' of Breton language, Breton, where this combination is an independent Digraphs and trigraphs, trigraph. ICANN considers this the proper character for Ukrainian alphabet, Ukrainian apostrophe within Internationalized domain name, IDNs. Some argue that this character should be used for the apostrophe in English. This character is rendered identically to U+2019 in the Unicode code charts, and the standard cautions that one should never assume this code is used in any language. Characters similar to apostrophe: * * * * Hawaiian '''' and for the transliteration of Arabic and Hebrew ''ʻayn''. * * Arabic ''hamza'' and Hebrew ''alef''. * Arabic and Hebrew ''ʿayin''. * Stress accent or dynamic accent. * * One of two characters for glottal stop in Nenets languages, Nenets. * * Also known as combining Greek ''Smooth breathing, psili''. * Also known as combining Greek ''Rough breathing, dasia''. * * * Identical to U+0313. * Also known as Greek '. * * * * * (or turned comma, which can mark a letter's omission) * * * * ''Saltillo (linguistics), Saltillo'' of the languages of Mexico. * * Fullwidth form of the typewriter apostrophe.


Computing


ASCII encoding

The typewriter apostrophe, , was inherited by computer keyboards, and is the only apostrophe character (computing), character available in the (7-bit) ASCII character encoding, at code value 0x27 (39). In ASCII, it may be used to represent any of left single quotation mark, right single quotation mark, apostrophe, vertical line or prime (symbol), prime (punctuation marks), or an acute accent (modifier letters). Many earlier (pre-1985) computer displays and printers rendered the ASCII apostrophe as a typographic apostrophe, and rendered the grave accent ('back tick',0x60, 96) as a matching left single quotation mark. This allowed a more typographic appearance of text: ``I can't'' would appear as on these systems. This can still be seen in many documents prepared at that time, and is still used in the TeX typesetting system to create typographic quotes.


Typographic apostrophe in 8-bit encodings

Support for the typographic apostrophe (  ) was introduced in several 8-bit character encodings, such as the Classic Mac OS, Apple Macintosh operating system's Mac Roman character set (in 1984), and later in the CP1252 encoding of Microsoft Windows. Both sets also used this code point for a closing single quote. There is no such character in ISO 8859-1. The Microsoft Windows Windows code page, code page CP1252 (sometimes incorrectly called ''ANSI'' or ''ISO-Latin'') contains the typographic apostrophe at 0x92. Due to "smart quotes" in Microsoft software converting the ASCII apostrophe to this value, other software makers have been effectively forced to adopt this as a ''de facto'' convention. For instance, the HTML5 standard specifies that this value is interpreted as this character from CP1252. Some earlier non-Microsoft browsers would display a '?' for this and make web pages composed with Microsoft software somewhat hard to read.


Entering apostrophes

Although ubiquitous in typeset material, the typographic apostrophe (  ) is rather difficult to enter on a computer, since it does not have its own key on a standard keyboard. Outside the world of professional typesetting and graphic design, many people do not know how to enter this character and instead use the typewriter apostrophe ( ' ). The typewriter apostrophe has always been considered tolerable on Web pages because of the egalitarian nature of Web publishing, the low resolution of computer monitors in comparison to print, and legacy limitations provided by ASCII. More recently, the standard use of the typographic apostrophe is becoming more common on the Web due to the wide adoption of the
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requireme ...

Unicode
text encoding standard, higher-resolution displays, and advanced spatial anti-aliasing, anti-aliasing of text in modern operating systems. Because typewriter apostrophes are now often automatically converted to typographic apostrophes by word processor, word processing and desktop publishing software, the typographic apostrophe does often appear in documents produced by non-professionals, albeit sometimes incorrectly—see the section "Smart Quotes" below. XML (and hence XHTML) defines an &apos; character entity reference for the ASCII typewriter apostrophe. &apos; is officially supported in HTML since HTML 5. It is ''not'' defined in HTML 4 despite all the other predefined character entities from XML being defined. If it cannot be entered literally in HTML, a numeric character reference could be used instead, such as &#x27; or &#39;. In the HTML entity &rsquo; the ''rsquo'' is short for right single quotation mark.


Smart quotes

To make typographic apostrophes easier to enter, word processing and publishing software often convert typewriter apostrophes to typographic apostrophes during text entry (at the same time converting opening and closing single and double quotes to their standard left-handed or right-handed forms). A similar facility may be offered on web servers after submitting text in a form field, e.g. on weblogs or free encyclopedias. This is known as the ''smart quotes'' feature; apostrophes and quotation marks that are not automatically altered by computer programs are known as ''dumb quotes''. Such conversion is not always correct. Smart quotes features often incorrectly convert a leading apostrophe to an opening quotation mark (e.g., in abbreviations of years: ''29'' rather than the correct ''29'' for the years ''1929'' or ''2029'' (depending on context); or ''twas'' instead of ''twas'' as the archaism, archaic abbreviation of ''it was''). Smart quote features also often fail to recognise situations when a prime (symbol), prime rather than an apostrophe is needed; for example, incorrectly rendering the latitude 49° 53′ 08″ as 49° 53 08". In Microsoft Word it is possible to turn smart quotes off (in some versions, by navigating through ''Tools'', ''AutoCorrect'', ''AutoFormat as you type'', and then unchecking the appropriate option). Alternatively, typing Control-Z (for ''Undo'') immediately after entering the apostrophe will convert it back to a typewriter apostrophe. In Microsoft Word for Windows, holding down the Control key while typing two apostrophes will produce a single typographic apostrophe.


Programming

Some programming languages, like Pascal (programming language), Pascal, use the ASCII apostrophe to delimit string literals. In many languages, including JavaScript, ECMAScript, and Python (programming language), Python, either the apostrophe or the double quote may be used, allowing string literals to contain the other character (but not to contain both without using an escape character), e.g. foo = 'He said "Bar!"';. Strings delimited with apostrophes are often called ''single quoted''. Some languages, such as Perl, PHP, and many shell languages, treat single quoted strings as "raw" strings, while double quoted strings have expressions (such as "$variable") replaced with their values when interpreted. The C (programming language), C programming language (and many List of C-family programming languages, derived languages like C++, Java (programming language), Java, C Sharp (programming language), C#, and Scala (programming language), Scala) uses apostrophes to delimit a character literal. In these languages a character is a different object than a one-letter string. In C++, since C++14, apostrophes are also used as digit separators in numeric literals. In Visual Basic (and earlier Microsoft BASIC dialects such as QuickBASIC) an apostrophe is used to denote the start of a comment. In the Lisp (programming language), Lisp family of programming languages, an apostrophe is shorthand for the quote operator. In Rust (programming language), Rust, in addition to being used to delimit a character literal, an apostrophe can start an explicit Object lifetime, lifetime.


See also

*Apologetic apostrophe *Caron *Contraction (grammar) *Elision *Genitive case *Modifier letter double apostrophe *Possessive case *Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Apostrophes, Wikipedia Manual of Style § Apostrophes for the use of different apostrophe characters within Wikipedia


Notes and references


Notes


References


Bibliography

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External links


"Obsessed with Possessives"
The Carolina Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication article on apostrophe use with possessives.
The apostrophe character
Problems representing apostrophes on computers
The Apostrophe Protection Society



The Dreaded Apostrophe: An approach using a single rule only

How to use an apostrophe
The Oatmeal
"How the Past Affects the Future: The Story of the Apostrophe"
by Christina Cavella and Robin A. Kernodle
A humorous guide to proper and improper usage of the apostropheHumble apostrophe reprieved in council U-turn , The Times
18 March 2013
The Ultimate Flowchart to Using Apostrophes (Infographic)
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