The apostrophe is a punctuation mark commonly used in English writing to indicate possession or omitted letters. It is typically used in place of a letter or letters, most often an “s” or an “e,” as in words “child’s” and “we’re.” In addition to indicating possessive forms of nouns, apostrophes are often used with numbers to indicate decades, such as “the ’90s”.
Despite its prevalence in written English, apostrophes are one of the most commonly misused punctuation marks. They are often confused with the plural form of a word or another similar-looking punctuation mark, such as the quotation mark (“). Because they are not strictly punctuation marks but rather part of a word itself, their use can be confusing and difficult to master for even experienced writers.
One of the main causes of apostrophe errors is confusion between plural forms and possessive forms. For example, many people mistakenly write “childrens’ books” when they should instead write “children’s books.” It is because “child” becomes “children” to make it plural. Since “children” is already plural, you make a plural possessive by adding ‘s, not s’.
Where Does the Apostrophe Go in Years?
When abbreviating a year, you need to remove the first two numbers and indicate the omission using an apostrophe, so 2023 becomes ’23 (not 23′).
Examples of how to abbreviate years:
The 2023 years should be abbreviated as ’23.
Another common mistake is using an apostrophe when an apostrophe is not needed, such as incorrectly adding one to the number “20” to make it into the possessive form: “20’s”. In these cases, it may be helpful for writers to simply ignore any rules about apostrophes altogether and focus on getting their message across clearly and concisely.
INCORRECT: My friend graduated in the early 1990's.
Correct is: My friend graduated in the early 1990s.
However, if you’re looking to master proper usage of this tricky punctuation mark, there are some general guidelines that you can follow. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that apostrophes should only be added where they actually belong. So if you want to express ownership or show omission within a word or phrase, go ahead and add an apostrophe – just make sure you put it correctly!