Grammar 101: The Random Apostrophe

Last Update: Jul 15, 2022

blog cover image

Grammar 101: The Random Apostrophe


A Few Simple Rules Are All You Need

There's no doubt that, in its entirety, English grammar is complex, especially for someone learning English as a second language.But...If you're a native English speaker and just want to avoid common grammatical errors in your writing (such as blog posts on your website) there are only a handful of rules that you need to memorize.So this series of posts is for those who'd like to ditch the Grammarly crutch and just know what's right and what's not.

Here's the twelfth one:

The Random Apostrophe

It's an unfortunate fact that some people see an "s" on the end of a word and feel an immediate compulsion to put an apostrophe in front of it, completely ignoring whether it's needed or not.

In this article, I'll give you the rules to determine if in fact it's correct.

Sidenote: Sometimes I imagine that there's a cloud of apostrophes hovering over every writer (particularly blog post authors) waiting for an "s" to appear, so that it can drop down and make its presence felt. Just like drop bears in Australia waiting on the unsuspecting tourist.

Here Are the Rules

1. Never use an apostrophe to denote a plural.

Not even Wealthy Affiliate is immune. Go to Wealthy Affiliate and look under the heading "How Much Can You Earn?", You'll see "Use the earnings calculator to test different scenario's".

Can you see what's wrong?

It's a simple plural and should be "scenarios". The random dropped down apostrophe has struck again!

2. Use an apostrophe for a possessive except for "its".

With one exception, use an apostrophe to create the possessive case. Possessive is a grammatical term to indicate ownership. For example, "Do you see Suzy's red car over there?" or "The house's roof is on fire."

The exception is "Its" and this is because "it's" (with the apostrophe) is ALWAYS an abbreviation of "it is". So "Its best protection against predators is its razor sharp canines" contains two examples.

3. Use an apostrophe to signify a missing letter or letters in an abbreviation.

For example, "should've" is an abbreviation for "should have" so the apostrophe replaces the letters "ha". (As a side issue, Gen Z thinks it's "should of" simply because of the pronunciation of "should've". This may become so widespread that it becomes accepted as correct, illustrating the evolution of language.)

A less controversial example is something like "don't", which is an abbreviation of "do not".


Hopefully, you'll be able to apply these simple rules to get it right and avoid the apostrophe apocalypse.

Recent Comments


Excellent explanation, Phil
I hope it will be clearer to all now

Thanks, Simone. Though I'm sure you meant explanation. :-)

Thanks Phil

Another excellent grammar post, Phil!


Thanks, Jeff. Glad you liked it.

I did, it was interesting, Phil!


A nice clear concise list of rules for those apostrophes.
If I remember clearly it was a politician that got mauled by a drop bear. Dangerous animals they are…And Bob Hawke got mauled by a drop beer or several as well.


Thanks, Stephen. Gotta watch out for the drop bears.

Nice tips Phil.

How would you explain the apostrophe after the s (e.g., Rowes') is it correct usage... because I always see this kind of word written, thanks.


Thanks, Rowe. The apostrophe after the "s" is how you make a plural possessive. So, for example, "All of the houses' roofs were on fire". "Rowes'" would be incorrect.

Thanks, Phil... appreciated.


You're welcome, Rowe.

Actually, when individual names end with 's' such as James the apostrophe is added after the 's', hence either James' car was stolen or James's brother has gone overseas. Same goes for Rowes'. To form the plural you simply add 'es', hence the Jameses' dog or the Jameses are a lovely family.
Hope I haven't made it more complicated.

I don't believe that's true, Rosemarie. The correct possessive case for James is James's.

As always, you're spot on. Apostrophe misuse is such a sore point, and so prevalent. Glad you've made it so simplified and easy to understand. Keep up the great work 👋👋

What a lovely comment, Rosemarie. I really appreciate it.

Create Your Free Wealthy Affiliate Account Today!
4-Steps to Success Class
One Profit Ready Website
Market Research & Analysis Tools
Millionaire Mentorship
Core “Business Start Up” Training