Avoid an apostrophe catastrophe!

Many people have a blind spot when it comes to using the apostrophe. Why does it matter when it comes to your website? Because poor punctuation can make you look unprofessional, that's why! This guide explains why we use the apostrophe and the common pitfalls.

Why do we use the apostrophe?

There’s two reasons.

To show that something belongs to something else:

Customers have been flocking to Megan’s pie shop for generations

To show that a letter is missing:

What’s so important about punctuation?

The grocer's apostrophe

If you’re not sure about how to use the apostrophe correctly the temptation is to put it in all over the place, you know, just in case.

Which is why you see signs advertising banana’s, potato’s and carrot’s rather than simply bananas, potatoes and carrots.

The simple way to remember it is that apostrophes are never used in plurals.

Some examples of correct usage:

One banana – two bananas

The banana’s colour is such a distinctive yellow

One potato – two potatoes (three potatoes, four)

The potato's well-known for its high starch content

This also extends to abbreviations and decades:

CDs, GCSEs, MPs, the ‘90s

Common misuse:

Two banana’s

Three potato’s

CD's, GCSE's, MP's, the '90's

And a new favourite, spotted outside a Mediterranean restaurant recently - tapa's instead of tapas.

Its and it's

This is a quirky one - it’s so easy to get this wrong!

It’s is a shortened form of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’

It’s on telly every night

Call us now - it’s the best way of getting results

Its is a possessive meaning ‘of it’

The local bakery is loved by all its customers

Who's and whose

Who’s is an abbreviation of who is.

Whose means ‘of whom’

Here’s some examples:

Alan Partridge, who’s the most popular presenter on Radio Norwich

Steve Coogan, whose character Alan Partridge is based on a radio presenter, is a versatile comedian

Your and you're

Mixing these two up is a common mistake.

Your always means belonging to you

You’re is just short for ‘you are’

Here's some examples of both:

Thanks for your birthday present

Finding florists in your area

In your opinion, was it one of his best films?

You’re winding me up!

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