TIP: How to Use Apostrophes

Let’s talk about apostrophes.

Specifically, let’s talk about apostrophes used to replace numbers or letters. Sometimes these come in the form of contractions like don’t, can’t and won’t.

Other times we replace numbers:
I was born in the ’80s. 

The above is correct, but too often we see mistakes like these:

  • I was born in the ‘80s. INCORRECT
  • I was born in the 80’s. INCORRECT

It’s easy to make the mistake of putting a single quotation mark  —  ‘  — in front of 80s because the same key is used for an apostrophe. When you begin a word with this key, your computer will automatically assume you want a quotation mark. But you aren’t quoting 80s. You’re replacing numbers, similar to when you replace the “o” in “not” when creating the contraction “don’t.”

By putting an apostrophe behind the 0 in 80s as in “80’s” you would be making it possessive, and would still need an apostrophe before the 8. This would mean the 80s were claiming something as their own, which could be just about anything that happened during that time, and likely wouldn’t make much sense.

So there you have it. To replace numbers, be sure you’re using an apostrophe instead of a single quotation mark. A simple way of doing this is typing out a contraction like “don’t” and copying and pasting the apostrophe. —Sarah Muench

2019-08-19T04:23:52+00:00 September 15th, 2019|Proofreading Tips|0 Comments

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