Saturday, August 22, 2009

Possessive Apostrophe

I just replied to a post in BTG and so thought of putting the concept of possessive apostrophe here.

The sentence in contention was:

A survey by the National Council of Churches showed that in 1986 there were 20,736 female ministers, almost 9 percent of the nation's clergy, twice as much as 1977.

A. twice as much as 1977
B. twice as many as 1977
C. double what it was in 1977
D. double the figure for 1977
E. a number double that of 1977's

and the question was why option E is wrong.


The apostrophe (’) is one of the most used and misused English punctuation marks. No one is ever quite sure where to put it. You can use it when things are left out (contractions), but it’s the possessiveness that causes the most trouble.
The apostrophe is all about making a statement of ownership. You belong to me. This belongs to that. In grammar speak, the apostrophe shows the possessive of nouns.
There are four ways to use the apostrophe to show ownership or belonging.
1. Add apostrophe s to the end of a singular noun that does not end in s:
the manager’s room
2. Add apostrophe s to the end of a singular noun, even if it ends in s (this practice may vary in some places):
Doris’s scarf
3. Add apostrophe s to the end of a plural noun that doesn’t end in s
the children’s bag
4. If the plural noun ends in s, just add the apostrophe
my friends’ car
Notice that possessive pronouns like yours, his, hers, ours, its and theirs are not followed by the apostrophe.
Finally, if you want to play around with it, Wikipedia has a list of four phrases illustrating how the apostrophe can literally change the meaning of sentences.
my sister’s friend’s investments (I have one sister and she has one friend.)
my sisters’ friends’ investments (I have many sisters and they have many friends.)
my sisters’ friend’s investments (I have many sisters and they have one friend.)
my sister’s friends’ investments (I have one sister and she has many friends.)

44 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. 我對自己的信心已超越別人對我的評價..............................

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  4. 良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。.................................................................                           

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  5. 當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

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