Grammar tips: Apostrophes

Grumpy Cat apostrophe meme

Did you know that Aug. 16 is International Apostrophe Day? We’re celebrating early because we all could use a little grammar refresher to dust off the cobwebs that have accumulated since grade school.

HGR’s Marketing Department decided to create a regular grammar tip for our employees on common grammar errors that we see in written and email communications. As the resident writer/blogger, I decided, “Why not share that info with our customers and help everyone become more effective communicators?”

Let’s get to it! Apostrophes are a lot like commas and hyphens in the sense that they are a mark of punctuation that many people do not know how to use properly; so, we throw them in where they don’t belong and leave them out where they do belong. Usually, this happens when forming plural words or when showing possession, but I see it with contractions.

Here are some examples:

  • We are implementing managements new goals. (need an apostrophe in management’s to show it is possessive; whose goal is it? It’s management’s goal.)
  • We are one of the best company’s to work for. (companies not company’s since this word is plural not possessive; you would say, “We follow the company’s employee handbook.”)
  • Who’s goal is it? (wrong word; should be whose since “who’s” means who is)
  • Having perfect attendance deserves it’s own reward or Spring is on it’s way. (its not it’s since it’s is a contraction meaning “it is.”)
  • You’re valuables are safe in the locker. (wrong word; “you’re is a contraction meaning “you are” while “your” is a possessive pronoun showing who the valuables belong to)
  • Lets clock out for break. (apostrophe needed in the contraction for “let us” to form “let’s”)

You get the idea! You may think these examples are obvious, but they are actual examples that I have seen in the past. To avoid these mistakes and sound more professional in your (not you’re) writing, here are some rules of thumb when NOT to use an apostrophe:

  • In possessive pronouns (whose, ours, yours, his, hers, its, theirs)
  • In nouns that are plural but not possessive (CDs, 100s, 1960s)
  • In verbs that end in –s (marks, sees, finds)

Another tip: Make sure that you’re using the correct word in your writing because often they’re misused when you confuse their with they’re and you’re with your or it’s with its.

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