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2.5 The apostrophe

Apostrophes are used in two ways:


Special Cases: Time and Money

As we’ve seen, possessive apostrophes are most commonly used to show ownership by people or things: the boy’s bicycle, the book’s cover, Australia’s flag, and so on. However, they are also used in relation to periods of time or sums of money.

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Miscellaneous

Sometimes nouns are used possessively without the second noun (which is understood by the reader).

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The Dreaded ITS / IT’S Confusion

The its/it’s confusion arises from the fact that there are two categories of apostrophes:

Category 1 – dropped letter
Category 2 – possession

It’s always belongs to category 1.
It’s always means it is or it has.

The reason for the confusion is that its is a possessive pronoun, and so we may (wrongly) assume that it belongs to category 2 and needs an apostrophe. However, as a possessive pronoun ( like ‘his’, ‘her’, or their’ ), its already indicates possession in the same way as ‘her’ or ‘his’. Just as we wouldn’t write ‘hi’s life, we don’t write ‘it’s life’.

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