It’s or its? The Art of the Apostrophe

I was in London two weeks ago and met up with some friends I used to work with in the City. In the good old days we would go out for a drink every once in a while in that most touristy of haunts, Covent Garden. The sights, the sounds, the smells (the postcards of punks and British bulldogs) are all still there from when we used to go out a decade ago – but I noticed one change: the punctuation has got an awful lot worse.

This picture of a bar menu was taken in a very, very smart hotel.

Just who do the liqueurs belong to?

Now, it may be a small thing but getting your apostrophes in the right place counts. It ensures that what you’re trying to say is communicated clearly and correctly to your audience. It makes sure that you’re making sense and that you are listened to.

And if you’re writing to sell you can see why that might be important.

The Art of The Apostrophe

Use 1: An apostrophe shows that letters have been left out of a word, so –

‘She has got my wine glass!’ becomes ‘She’s got my wine glass!’

‘It is time for a nightcap’ becomes ‘It’s time for a nightcap.’

‘Do not let me forget my bag.’ becomes ‘Don’t let me forget my bag.’

‘They are paying the bill.’ becomes ‘They’re paying the bill.’

(Always nice, thanks boys!)

Use 2: An apostrophe shows that something belongs to someone, so –

Richard’s glasses

Dominic’s coat

The apostrophe goes after the ‘s’ if the word ends in ‘s’ already, so –

The tourists’ fancy cameras.

Remember: There are no apostrophes in the possessive pronouns his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs.

Got it?


How about these examples? Where should you use an apostrophe?

(The answers are at the bottom of the page)

  1. Its a crying shame.
  2. The hotel has its own drinking policy.
  3. I want a gin and tonic like hers.
  4. Mines a white wine.
  5. Olives for sale.













1.Its a crying shame.

It’s a crying shame. (The ‘ replaces the ‘i’ in ‘is’)

2.The hotel has its own drinking policy.

Not for a possessive pronoun.

3.I want a gin and tonic like hers.

Not for a possessive pronoun.

4.Mines a white wine.

Mine’s a white wine. (Short for mine is)

5.Olives for sale.

Never for a simple plural.


How did you do?


Getting you’re apostrophes in a muddle confuses you’re audience. Its a sure fire way to muddle up you’re message and detract from what it is thats at the heart of your message. Its a simple but easy way to ensure your reader’s know what you want to say and arent tripped up by you’re words.


Get it?

Got it?

Great : )











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