Recalcitrant possessive apostrophes Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

What can we do about apostrophes? We need them, but their proper use often evades our understanding. Here are some tips for their usage:

When you write the word “it’s” you need to understand that this is not possessive. You have written the words “it is.” For example, if you write “it’s a mystery to me,” you have correctly written “it is a mystery to me.” If you write “it’s table,” you have incorrectly assumed that you have used a possessive apostrophe correctly. Nope, you have written “it is table.” That is not possessive of anything.

You see, the word “its” does not use an apostrophe to show possession. You simply write “its table” to indicate that the table belongs to something, like a table, for example. The correctly-written sentence would be: “The room did not have its table in the correct location.” While the room might have misplaced its table, the sentence is correct because it does not read as “the room did not have it is table in the correct location,” which is a horrid sentence.

So please remember, the word “its” does not require a possessive apostrophe. If it has one, it is not possessive, it’s just wrong! (But this last sentence was right because I was saying “it is just wrong!”


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.


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