Correct Usages of Apostrophes
The word "apostrophe" means "to turn away" in Greek, and originally apostrophes were only used to replace letters in a word that were being omitted.
In modern English, however, apostrophes are used for three main purposes:
• possession: The cat's meow. The man's hat.
• plural of non-word items: P's and Q's.
• contractions: I wasn't ready to go (apostrophe replacing o in not).
It's versus Its
Misusing it's and its is a common mistake. However, the distinction between the two words is easy to explain.
It's is a contraction for it is or it has: It's hot today. It's got to be ready by now.
Its is a possessive form of it: My gum has lost its flavor.
If you are confused about which to use, do this test: Insert it is or it has into your sentence. If your sentence makes sense, then you need to use the contraction form, it's.
If not, then use the non-contraction form, its.
More Examples of Its
The dog wagged its tail.
(The dog wagged it is tail doesn't make sense.)
The child ate its food.
(The child ate it is food doesn't make sense.)
More Examples of It's
It's time to go to school.
(It is time to go to school.)
It's been a long time since we have seen each other.
(It has been a long time since we have seen each other.
Your vs. You're
Using your when you're is correct is also a common mistake. You're is a contraction for you are. Your is the possessive form of you.
To find out which is correct, just insert you are into your sentence instead of you're or your and see whether it makes sense.
Correct Usage of Your
It is time for your medicine.
(It is time for you are medicine doesn't make sense.)
We will go to your play after we eat.
(We will go to you are play does not make sense.)
Correct Usage of You're
You're going to be the first in line.
(You are going to be the first in line.)
You're my best friend.
(You are my best friend.)
Other Tricky Homonyms: There, Their, and They're
- There, Their and They're: Grammar Guide
What is the difference between there, their and they're? This Hub gives definitions and correct usage examples for these commonly confused words.
Comments, Thoughts or Questions?
Clenne on April 07, 2015:
There is pertaining to a place and there is pertaining to a group of people
Mike on October 23, 2011:
My wife and I have difficulty determining if "I'd" (or "We'd") is short for "I had" or "I would" (or "We had" or "We would"). Thanks.
JOE on October 17, 2011:
A friend told me that you can say/write "YOU IS" ... e.g. "you is angry" instead "you are angry"
is this right?
Garham on October 07, 2011:
Thanks for the help!
Ed on September 19, 2011:
"It's" Why does it not follow the example of "John's" or "Susan's" as in a posessive sense? The dog ate it's ball.
goody on September 13, 2011:
hi! I'm writing this because I really confused about the words there and their?
Getwood on August 27, 2011:
Posted to Facebook: You know you from Louisa when...you consider "You know you from Louisa when" is proper grammar. (or, as proper grammar?)
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on May 19, 2011:
The correct sentence structure is: Here is a picture of me and Allan at the zoo. If you'd like more clarification, check out my Hub regarding this grammar issue: https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/Grammar_M...
Confused on May 14, 2011:
Which is the correct way to phrase the following: "Here is a picture of Allan and I at the zoo" or "Here is a picture of me and Allan at the zoo"?
Dude on November 28, 2010:
I really enjoyed you are article thank you. My daughter will really benefit by using this neat trick in it has school ;)
Kimberly Mattfield from Tacoma washington on September 29, 2010:
I am writing notes for my fellow students in my ABE (Adult Basic Education), class. What I do is go to class take notes, come home and type them out and format them for my classmates. I am pleased to find this article because it's going to be very useful for my notes, and to reference for my fellow students to check out your hub for further help and explanations. Thank you for writing this! I love Hubpages!
Shar on September 07, 2010:
Alan- you spelled grammar wrong (=
guru on September 01, 2010:
is it it's ok
or its ok?
alan on June 14, 2010:
Thanks for a very insightful hub.
I actually comnsider myself to be very good with grammer, and emglish is a real passion of mine.
The its v it's conundrum was strange in that, having never had a problem with it, i suddenly developed a mental block in which i found myself doubting my usage! Does anyone else ever experience that?
However, onto my question...
I'm from the UK so always use English English as opposed to American English and as such, often find myself arguing for and against the correct usage or pronunciation of certain words and phrase.
Some of the words pronounced in US English grate on me, and i'm sure the same applies in reverse (i particularly hate the US pronunciation of words such as "route", but find myself defending it due to the spelling ie. "out").
Could someone please clarify the US use of the word "math" as opposed to the UK version "maths".
I always think "math" sounds strange as i would generally consider the full word "mathematics" to be plural eg. applied mathematics.
I've never heard anyone refer to the full version as "mathematic" (certainly not on my side of the pond).
Could the US version derive from the word "mathematical"?
Joseph on January 29, 2009:
Someone corrected me when I said, " John has eaten a rattlesnake ". They told me it was ate instead of eaten. Is that right?
MargD on November 29, 2008:
Alison -- always have done, or did; never have did. Hope this helps.
Rosie -- other Romance (Latin-based) languages use this form of verb construction: Spanish would say "ha ido" for "has gone."
alison on October 28, 2008:
is it correct to use? I have done my work. Have you done your work? or should it be I have did my homework
Conner on September 15, 2008:
So i understand the difference between "its" and "it's" but when do you use its'?
(Ive never done this before)
Rosie on September 10, 2008:
So for the past tense "I did" and "I have done", does this distinction exist only in English or in other languages also?
Christopher on April 04, 2008:
Thanks Robin, it is clearer at this point. Grammar mishaps was a help.
Shauna on April 01, 2008:
I know this is late, but I had to comment. I appreciate your/you coming to the store - which is correct? Actually, it is "your". When using two verbs in English, the second verb may be either an infinitve (to eat) or a gerund (eating) - most of the time. After the verb "appreciate", we should use a gerund. If we want to qualify who is doing the eating, we must use the possessive. Therefore, your is the correct answer. Using you is an informal change that has recently come about because Americans are trying to simplify grammar. However, as English is a "descriptive" language, meaning that there is no formal body that dictates what is correct and incorrect, Americans are making up the rules as they go along. Therefore, the answer is that "your" is correct to the old grammar leaders, but that they don't have any real power. It is actually more of a question of what is prescribed vs. what is real. Eventually, it will prbably change to you, just as gotten is changing to got.
Raye from Seattle, WA on March 13, 2008:
The site owner of Bellaonline.com is always pointing out these usages to new editors. It's one of those things that never seems to go away.
Education Articles on November 11, 2007:
Don't you just love the English language? It really is a difficult language to grasp properly isn'it it? Your great little hub page has certainly helped me. - Many thanks, Paul
sweetgem83 on October 31, 2007:
William i believe it's "I appreciate you coming to the store with me."
William on September 06, 2007:
Oops! I meant to say, "I appreciate your coming to the store with me" or "I appreciate you coming to the store with me". Which is correct?
William on September 06, 2007:
Should one say "I appreciate your coming with me to the store with me" or "I appreciate you coming to the store with me". I think it should be "your", but can't remember!
Praveen on August 27, 2007:
Fantastic site! I cleared many of my grammer issues. Thanks much!
tyroneslothrop on May 23, 2007:
Is this really grammar? Or is it, rather, spelling conventions? Do we really want to confuse grammar with spelling conventions? A contraction is a phonological process (based on phonological rules). Personally, as a linguist, I cannot hear the difference between /Its/ and /Its/. Though one linguist friend claims that the possessive does not follow the devoicing rule of plurals in English. Thus /dawgs/ dog's and /dawgz/ dogs and /kats/ cat’s /kats/ cats—where the plural morpheme is /z/ and is devoiced through assimilation with the preceding voiceless consonant (though something different happens if it is a sibilant). A rule of English grammar (as that abstract system of language) would then be /z/ --> [s]/ [+voiceless, + consonantal, - sibilant] ____#. When we claim that spelling conventions are rules of grammar, are we not merely perpetuating a false conflation of language and writing?
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on April 18, 2007:
You can say, "I have done my homework; I did my homework; or I am done with my homework." It is incorrect to say, "I am done my homework." The same applies with your second sentence. This is the correct usage, "When you're done with dinner...." Hope that helps! ;)
Yizzer on April 18, 2007:
My friend consistently uses the word "done" incorrectly. She says "I am done my homework." Or "When you're done dinner..." We have arguments often about whether or not this is proper English. Can you help explain? Thank you.
Maria on March 06, 2007:
Hi Robin, thank you very much for this site it helped me a lot in teaching my son who is in 2nd Gr right now,he has a little bit of confusion using THERE, THEY'RE and THEIR. I hope you will post more about GRAMMAR coz i'm learning also and I use your site as my reference because it is easy to understand, we're from another country and not used to speak your language (ENGLISH). Post more.Thank you.
Robin on February 05, 2007:
Hi Kassandra,The correct way to say your sentence is, "He has not eaten anything yet today." Eat, Ate, Eaten: I will eat today. I ate yesterday. I have eaten a lot today. Use the term "eaten" when the word "have" precedes it. Thanks for the question!
Kassandra on February 03, 2007:
Hello! I have a friend who likes to correct my grammer. Is it correct to say, "He has not ate anything yet today." ? I would appreciate the answer! Thanks!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on January 29, 2007:
Thanks Lauren. I appreciate the catch! Cheers!
lauren on January 29, 2007:
Thanks for the "it's" clarification! Very helpful! You missed a "t" in contraction in the last sentence. Spelling/grammer is a learning process and I know this very well! Thanks for the help! Hopefully I didn't spell anything wrong...
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 05, 2006:
Thanks smoovstella! I read your hubs on horses and homeschooling. I think you could be a great resources for horse lovers and homeschoolers! Thanks for the comment! Robin
smoovstella on October 05, 2006:
WOW! What wonderful hubs you have here! I am a former teacher myself. I now homeschool my teenage boys at home and love ever minute of it. I am no English teacher by all means lol (my subjects are Math and Science) but I enjoy your contribution here and find it helpful :) Nice job! I must bookmark you for reference :) Thanks!
Robin on October 02, 2006:
Hi Nirosha. I see two main mistakes in your above sentence. First, I believe the statement should be the Western Basin and Plateau regions. Second, you need to specify what is being offered to the tourists. I would rewrite the sentence, "Like the area in and around the Rocky Mountains, the Western Basin and Plateau regions of the United States offer plenty of adventure for tourists."
As for your second question, you are correct that the statement, "Where are you at?" is incorrect. "At" is a preposition and should never be used at the end of a sentence. Prepositions link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other parts of the sentence. Other examples of prepositions include: on, besides, beneath, around, into, from, during, plus many more. The question should be simply, "Where are you?". Thanks for the questions and comments! I'll be looking for your first hub. You could write it on the SAT when you're finished studying. The best of luck to you!
Nirosha_7teen on October 02, 2006:
Nope.I have never written a hub.In fact,I just got introduced to this hub thing.Your hubpage was the first I'd ever visited.Would probably make one in future(they say 'in the future' in American English,don't they?).
Robin,could you please tell me where the error lies in the following sentence?
Like the area in and around the Rocky Mountains, the Western Basins and Plateaus region of the United States offer much for the tourist.
I sure would love to read that book!But, at present I am busy preparing for the SAT.
One more thing...I've heard many Americans ask,"Where are you at?" I don't know why, but it sounds strange to me.Isn't 'at' redundant?
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 30, 2006:
Hi Nirosha. I love to hear from teens that are aware of grammar! You are correct in your assessment of your sentences. They are both correct. You'd probably like the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." It's a hilarious book about grammar and grammatical errors. I have added it to the top of this hub. Have you written any hubs yet? If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Thanks for the comment!
Nirosha_7teen on September 30, 2006:
Just wanted to tell you that your hubpage is awesome.I've read some of the articles you've written here.I love the way you respond to people's comments.Keep it up!
Something about me;
My name is Nirosha and I am seventeen years old. I am an Indian.(Should it be 'I am Indian' or is this ok?I guess it's correct either way.In the former sentence, 'indian' was used as a noun while in the latter, as an adjective.What do you say?)
I love English(especially American English).
I like spotting grammatical errors.;)I'm sure u do too;)
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 09, 2006:
I think that the statement should be, "I could've (could have) been a contender." The words "could of", "should of" and "would of" are not correct. Instead we should say, "could have" or "could've", "should have" or "should've", and "would have" or "would've". The use of the words "of" instead of "have" or the contraction "'ve" are often misused. Thanks for the comment!
Jason Menayan from San Francisco on September 09, 2006:
A rarer mistake, but I still see it fairly often, is confusing 've with of, because they sound the same. "I could have been a contender".
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on September 05, 2006:
Thanks for the comment StuartJ. You were the one that inspired me on the grammar hubs. I have a few more I'm going to write. I don't think you need a comma before the "too" unless you want to have added emphasis. I agree, small hubs are easier to read and a better bet all around. Cheers!
StuartJ from Christchurch, New Zealand on September 05, 2006:
Hi, you have done it too! (Should I have a comma before the 'too' in that first sentence, or is it ok with short sentences like that?)
I like the idea of the smallish linked Hubs. I must look at dividing mine up a bit more.