Punctuation is the art of clarifying how a group of words falls together into contractions, clauses, and sentences. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear how some punctuation marks should be used! Let’s take a look at several popular, though confusing, punctuation marks. Even if you think you’ve got the topic all sewn up, it’s worth having another look.
1. Possessive apostrophes
The possessive apostrophe is a tricky one, hanging around the ends of words, but in several different ways. So how exactly should we be using it?
Let’s start simple. For a singular noun, such as dog, you add an apostrophe plus s to the end: The dog’s collar was covered in mud.
For a plural noun, such as elephants, you add an apostrophe to the end: The elephants’ parade was troubled by rain.
For a plural noun that doesn’t end with s, you add an apostrophe plus s to the end: The children’s party went on as planned.
The place it gets tricky is with personal names, such as Charles and Ulysses, which already end in an s sound. In those cases, you generally add an apostrophe plus s if you naturally pronounce an extra s when you say the word out loud: Charles’s new tie is fantastic.
If you don’t pronounce an extra s when you say the word, then leave it out: Ulysses’ presentation is set for Monday.
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