English Punctuation: Apostrophe

The apostrophe probaly causes more grief than any of the other punctuation marks put together!

The problem nearly always seems to stem from users not understanding that the apostrophe has two very different (and very important) uses in English.

  • to show possession and ownership - e.g. Jack's car. Mary's father.
  • to indicate a contraction - he's (he is), we're (we are), they're (they are)
  • These two examples show the apostrophe being used for possession (sentence 1) and contraction (sentence 2)

    • Colombia's coffee exports have risen steadily over the past decade.
    • Colombia's one of the main coffee producing countries in the world.

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