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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.



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


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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