When to use an apostrophe in English

The apostrophe has three main uses in English. It indicates: contractions and missing letters, possession, and special plurals. Learn more about the apostrophe by clicking the tabs below.


  • Contractions
  • Possessives
  • Special Plurals


Use an apostrophe to show the place of missing letters in a contracted form.

it’s = it is/ it has
she’d = she had/ she would
can’t = cannot
’86 = 1986 (only in informal writing)


When the noun ends in any letter other than s, place the apostrophe before the possessive s.

I’m going to Mark’s house.
The hairdresser’s salon was very busy today.
The tram’s ticket machine broke down.

Names that end in -s can be followed by an apostrophe or an apostrophe + -s.

Mr Jones’ house is number 56.
Mr Jones’s house is on the left.

The -s in plural nouns is followed simply by an apostrophe.

It is the best girls’ school in the country.
The boys’ basketball team is on a winning streak.

To show shared possession, use apostrophe + s after the last name.

Katie and Mark’s house

they own the house together

To show individual possession, use apostrophe + -s after each possessor .

Katie’s and Mark’s houses were built in the same year.

they own a house each


Don’t use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns/determiners (yours, its etc).

Has the dog had its walk? (not: … it’s walk)
Is that red car yours? (not: … your’s?)

Special Plurals

An apostrophe is not usually used with plural nouns. However, an apostrophe is needed to avoid confusion with certain letters or numbers.

May got her report card last week. She got three A’s, two B’s and two C’s. (not: three As)
How many 5’s can you see in the picture?