Apostrophe Do's and Don'tsDO use an apostrophe
Do NOT use an apostrophe:
>To show possession: something belongs to someone or something
The counselor's skills have improved significantly.( 's = singular and possessive: the skills of one counselor)
Our counselors' skills have improved significantly.
( s' = plural and possessive: the skills of more than one counselor)
This month's events are listed in the program.
( 's = singular and possessive: the events of this one month)
- Those agencies' reputations are not very good.
(s' = plural and possessive: the reputations of those many agencies)
>To make a contraction: indicating that a letter or letters have been left out
NOTE: DO NOT use contractions in formal academic writing; it is always preferable to write the words out.
Crying isn't going to help. ( = Crying is not...)
Who's available to help with this report? (= who is available....)
Special Problem: It's vs. Its
>Just to make a word plural
Incorrect: There are three new client's waiting for you
- Correct: There are three new clients waiting for you.
It's (with apostrophe) always--and only--means "it is."
It's very late. (= It is very late.) Do not use apostrophes like this in formal writing.
Its (without apostrophe) always--and only--shows possession.
- The proposal has its faults. (= the faults of the proposal)