Section Menu

Apostrophes

GENERAL

Use to show omitted figures.
The class of '62 . . . The '80s

Use to show plurals of single letters and abbreviations with periods.
Mind your p's and q's.
Ph.D.'s . . . B.A.'s . . . P.O.W.'s

But do not use with plurals of numbers or multiple-letter combinations.
The 1980s . . .his 7s . . .The VFWs

POSSESSION

Form the possessive of singular nouns by adding 's, no matter what the final consonant.
Ross's Landing . . . Jones's car . . . witch's brew
Exceptions: ancient names -- Jesus', Moses', Rameses', Xerxes', etc.

Form the possessive of plural nouns by adding 's if the word does not end in s or z sound
men's jobs . . . women's rights

or, if it does end in s or z sound, by adding only an apostrophe.
The Joneses' garden . . . three dollars' worth
Exceptions: Names of organizations often omit the apostrophe.

 

Commas

ACADEMIC DEGREES

When a name is followed by a degree abbreviation, set the abbreviation off with commas.
John Smith, Ph.D., has been selected . . .

DATES

Do not use commas to set off the year when the month but not the day is used.
It was in April 1982 that . . .
but
It was on April 1, 1982, that . . .

NUMBERS

Use a comma with most figures higher than 999. Don't use commas in street address numbers, broadcast frequencies, room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers, years, and temperatures.

SERIES

Use a comma before the words and or or in a series.
She studied German, French, and Spanish.
not
She studied German, French and Spanish.

Exceptions: Company and firm names that are written without commas. 

SPECIAL ABBREVIATIONS

Unless sentence structure calls for them, do not use commas before or after these: Jr.; Sr.; Inc.; or II, III, etc.
John Smith Jr. is the chair of . . .
We asked John Smith II about the . . .
He works for Smith Inc. in . . .

©