This month I wanted to explore how to use apostrophes in contractions.
Apostrophes are different from other kinds of punctuation marks. Unlike periods, commas, or question marks, for instance, an apostrophe becomes part of a word and can change its meaning dramatically.
Sometimes a single apostrophe can make the difference between meaning and a mess.
Take a peek at this excerpt from the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course in which Marie gives two simple and clear examples of how to use apostrophes in contractions.
Then I'll show you how understanding apostrophes can help clear up some of the most common grammatical errors in English.
As you can see, apostrophes tell us when letters or numbers have been left out.
That simple principle can help us avoid many of the errors people commonly make in writing English.
Apostrophes in Contractions Clarify Meaning
For example, people commonly confuse the words there, they're, and their.
Why? Because all three words sound the same out loud. (The technical term for this is homophone.)
However, if you remember that the word they're is actually a contraction for they are, you'll never confuse it with there or their.
I recently discussed these three words in one of our live Ask Cozy Grammar sessions, along with some simple memory tricks for remembering the differences between them.
Take a peek!
You can also use the same principle to remember the difference between it's and its, and between whose and who's.
When in doubt, uncontract the contraction and see if the sentence still makes sense.
If it does, you have the right word!
Have a Question? Ask Cozy Grammar!
This month marks the 1-year anniversary of our live Q&A series, Ask Cozy Grammar. We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that your subscription to any of our free or paid courses entitles you to join our free session each month.
Do you have a question about grammar, punctuation, spelling, or essay writing? Or a question about how best to teach any of these essential subjects?
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Marie's Albums for Learning? They're Great!
We're also delighted this month to announce that Marie's fifth album, Beethoven and Me, is now available for download.
The album includes four of Beethoven's most famous piano sonatas, including his unforgettable "Moonlight" Sonata and his fiery "Tempest" Sonata.
It's a wonderful way to enliven the mind and body for learning grammar, punctuation, or anything else!
We'll continue releasing a new album from Marie each month for the next five months, so be sure to stay subscribed for the latest news.
All of these albums are great, and it's an honor to be able to make them available.
By the way, did you notice the contraction in the last sentence?
Yes, it's is a contraction for it is.
By contrast, its is a possessive pronoun meaning "belonging to it" and never uses an apostrophe. (No possessive pronoun ever uses an apostrophe: my, your, his, her, its, their, our.)
Here's a simple sentence to illustrate the difference. Think of a seagull enjoying its place on a beach rock:
It's enjoying its place on the rock.
Notice that you can uncontract the it's to make it is, but you can't change the its to it is without making a mess of the sentence.
Now you'll always remember the difference!
And in honor of the difference, we have a special semi-secret offer for all of our subscribers who have honored us by reading this newsletter to the end.
Thank you for joining us this month. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
It's always a pleasure to be of service!
I hope this finds you and your family happy, healthy, and enjoying whatever place is yours in the world.