We use apostrophes for three reasons:
1 To show a possessive noun.
That is Carol’s book.
That jacket is Bill’s.
These sentences tell you that the book belongs to Carol and the jacket belongs to Bill.
When the noun is plural, the apostrophe usually goes at the end of the word:
This is the Boys' washroom (it is for all boys)
2 To indicate a contraction...a missing letter or even a word:
You mustn’t use your mobile/cell phone in the classroom.
I can’t get the top off this jar.
Mustn’t is a short form of ‘must not’. We could also call it a contraction. Can’t is a contraction of the word cannot. Notice that we spell the word cannot as one word.
When we tell the time we often say, for example, “It is two o’clock.”
O’clock is a contraction of ‘two of the clock’.
In this case the o' replaces 'of the'
3 We also use an apostrophe whenever we need to show an odd plural:
Remember to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
Finally, you will notice that when we want to highlight a certain word or phrase, we do that using ‘__________’. These look like apostrophes but they are not. They are called quotation marks and there always has to be one at the beginning and one at the end of the highlighted word or phrase.
English can be a little confusing sometimes but if you practice your English every day, you will learn all of the language’s peculiarities. Did you notice the apostrophe in the word language's? The word ‘peculiarities’ refers to the word language...in other words it is possessive...in this sentence, it belongs with that word.
One final note: When we pronounce words with apostrophes in them, they sound like:
Carol’s = Carolz
Bill’s = Billz
Mustn’t = mustent
Can’t = cant
O’clock = oh clock.
As for quotation marks, these are NOT pronounced. They are only a visual aid.
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