October 20, 2020
avoid apostrophe mistakes

Top 10 Apostrophe Mistakes to Avoid

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Once in a while, we all make some unpardonable apostrophe mistakes as we write or speak English. Your apostrophe mistakes can get pretty outrageous if you happen to be a non-native speaker of English. Just like me. Smile.

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Interestingly, in the course of my research for this post, I got to learn that native English speakers also make unacceptable apostrophe mistakes.

How to Use Metaphors in English

A good example is what is called the GROCER’S APOSTROPHE. More about this later in this post.

My purpose is to draw your attention to the apostrophe mistakes we make every day. I trust that after going through these common apostrophe mistakes, you will get better at using the apostrophe in your English sentences.

Are you ready to know more about the apostrophe mistakes and the correct use of the apostrophe in English speaking and writing? Then come with me.

Let’s begin with some general rules to guide you.

  • No possession, no apostrophe
  • Yes contraction, yes apostrophe
  • No possession apostrophe for pronouns

What the first two of the above general rules are saying about the proper use of the apostrophe is this. It is a mistake to add or ‘s to a word or words when you’re clearly not showing possession or contraction of any kind.

The third general rule above is quite straight to the point. You can use the apostrophe to show possession only when you add it to a noun. It is an apostrophe mistake to do that with a pronoun.

For example, sentence A, below is perfect. Sentence B? Well, you know it is not in English, at least, for now.

A. Mary’s uncle is my father’s friend.

B. She’s uncle is my he’s friend. WOW!

We are about to get down to the specifics. Here are the apostrophe mistakes you must avoid.

1. It’s is not the same as Its

So, stop writing “it’s” when what you mean is “its”


It’s raining here = It is raining here

Its size is quite small.

2. Who’s and Whose are not equal

Just take a look.

Who’s that in the room? = Who is that in  the room?

Whose room is that?

3. You’re and Your are miles apart.

The next time you’re tempted to write your sentence with your when you mean you’re, simply say, Satan, get thee behind me.

Have your example.

You’re speaking too fast. = You are speaking too fast.

Your voice is not clear enough.

4. They’re, Their and There have nothing in common

Some examples should help clarify this so you can avoid making one of the commonest apostrophe mistakes.

They’re making preparations for the party. = They are making preparations for the party.

Their parents live in London.

There is nobody in that house.

5. 1990s, 1990’s do not mean the same thing.

Let me explain.

You see, 1990s shows plurality. It means the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 up to 1999.

Acceptable sentence: The company achieved a lot in the 1990s.

Note that it is this form that can be shortened to become the ’90s, ’80s, ’70s and so on.


The company achieved a lot in the ’90s.

1990’s on the other hand shows possession. It, in fact, refers to a single year, 1990.


The year 1990’s highlife musicians talked a lot of sense.

6. is is a verb while i’s is a way of saying the plural of i

In other words, write i’s each time you mean something like,

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

7.Wrongly using the apostrophe to show plurality (aka The Grocer’s Apostrophe)

Some call this apostrophe mistake the Grocer’s apostrophe because it is commonly seen on the billboards of grocery shops.


Ken’s Cake’s and Drink’s

The acceptable way to put this is,

Ken’s Cakes and Drinks

8. Flatly refusing to add ‘s to plural irregular nouns like women, children, and.

The only explanation I can find for this apostrophe mistake is this. When you say children’s, women’s or feet’s out loudly, it sounds as if you’re committing a different, equally unpardonable, mistake. That is, adding a plural marker, s, to these words which must never take one.

But you have no choice. So do the right thing and stop making one of the easily avoidable apostrophe mistakes out there.

Unacceptable: I bought a children dress.

Acceptable: I bought a children’s dress.

9. Your’s, their’s, her’s, our’s are not part of the English language.

So, write them in full without the apostrophe.

Yours, theirs, hers, ours

He’s is different from his

He’s my younger brother. = He is my younger brother.

His wife is pregnant.

I hope you’ve got it.

10. Do’s and don’ts is better than Dos and don’ts

The focus here is on Dos as the wrong choice. It is one of those apostrophe mistakes pointed out in the AP Stylebook.

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Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph has a passion for the teaching and learning of Language and Literature mainly because these two help him to understand and appreciate why people act the way they do. Over the past two decades, he has coached over 5000 students and adult learners to achieve their educational goals. Ralph is the founder and CEO of Cegast Academy.

View all posts by Ralph Nyadzi →

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