It is a form of punctuation that looks like this: '
Remarkably there are 13 rules for the correct use of an apostrophe. In my opinion, there is no need to tempt bad luck nor to complicate that itty-bitty bit of a pencil mark. So here's the basics:
1) An apostrophe is used to indicate that letters have been left out.
For example, in the contraction y'all, the apostrophe stands in place of the o and the u to shorten you all to a word much easier to say.
2) An apostrophe is used to indicate possession or ownership.
For example, if a man has a hat it is the man's hat. If the cat takes the hat, then it is the cat's hat. If lots of cats come and guard the hat so that the man cannot (or can't) get it back, then it is the cats' hat. In plural possession, the apostrophe comes after the s, at the end of the word. Oh, except when the word's plural form does not have an s, such as when many men have a hat. Then it is the men's hat.
3) Alert! Alert! Names never have apostrophes unless letters are actually left out or the person to whom the name refers is possessing or owning something.
4) This - 1960's and 60's - is a no-no, unless the decade owns something or possesses something.
For example, one might say the 1960s were groovy, but the 1960's styles were not.
There is so much more to the apostrophe than meets the eye, but curing the common mistakes makes all the difference in a person's writing (and in the naming of children).
Do you have questions or confusion about the use of the apostrophe? Ask me and I'll try to clear it up.
This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.