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Reading and Writing Rocks Yellow / Lesson 6: Apostrophes

Colons & Semicolons
Semicolon= ; Uses of the Semicolon

  • Reason 1. To join independent clauses in compound sentences that do not have coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, nor, for, so, yet) and commas as connectors. Words like "however," "moreover," "thus," and "therefore," are often used as connectors in these sentences.

Examples for Reason 1

  • Comparisons are often used to emphasize a basic idea; however, they are more often used to explain something complex or unfamiliar by showing how something we don't understand relates to something we do.
  • There was no running and no shouting; all the children behaved very well; therefore, they will all get a treat.
  • Working mothers nationally pay an average of $53 a week for child care; this means that many women pay nearly half of their weekly salary to day care centers or babysitters

Reason 2:

  • To separate long or complicated items in a series which already includes commas

Examples for Reason 2

  • The speakers were Dr. Judith Cornwell, English; Dr. Peter Mortrude, biology; Dr. Shirley Enders, history; and Dr. Charles Viceroy, mathematics.
  • I have recommended this student because she communicates well with other students, faculty, and staff; completes her assignments ably and on time; and demonstrates an ability to organize people, materials, and time.

Reason 3:

  • To separate two long or complex independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction if confusion would result from using a comma.

Examples for Reason 3

  • Ishmael, the narrator in Moby-Dick goes to sea, he says, "whenever it is a damp, drizzly November" in his heart and soul; but Ahab, the captain of the ship, goes to sea because of his obsession to hunt and kill the great white whale, Moby Dick.
  • By the end of the sessions, the participants will have learned how to handle excessive amounts of paperwork, to work under pressure, and to juggle deadlines; and, if they complete all requirements, they will have a valuable addition to their resumes.

The Colon= : 8 Uses of the Colon

  • REASON 1:

  • After an independent clause that precedes a list. EXAMPLES: The Stearns County Theatrical Company announces the opening of the following plays: Lear, May 10th; Death of a Salesman, June 15th; and Camelot, August 20th. There are three historical sources of belief: reason or intellect, custom or habit, and inspiration.

Reason 2: To separate an explanation, rule, or example from a preceding independent clause.

  • Examples:
    After a sleepless night, the senator made her decision: she would not seek re-election. Music is more than a mechanical arrangement of sounds: it is an expression of deep feeling and ethical values. A way to remember which direction to move the hands of the clock when changing to or from Daylight Savings Time: spring forward, fall back

REASON 3: After the salutation of a business letter.

    Dear Mr. Peterson:
    Dear Faculty Member:

REASON 4: In the heading of a business memo.


REASON 5: Between the hour and the minutes.

  • Examples: 5:30 or 2:30

Reason 6: Between the chapter and the verse in the Bible, in citations for some literary works, and between the volume and the number of some publications.

  • EXAMPLES: Genesis 1:18-20
                        Part 3:121
                        Vol. 2:34

REASON 7: As part of a title

  • EXAMPLE: Grey Power: A Practical Survival Handbook for Senior Citizens.

REASON 8: In a bibliography between the place of publication and the name of the publisher.

  • EXAMPLE: Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1966.

The Apostrophe=?


  • Apostrophes are NOT used for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals, including acronyms

Use One: Possession

  • Forming possessives of nouns
  • To see if you need to make a possessive, turn the phrase around and make it an "of the..." phrase. For example:
  • the boy's hat = the hat of the boy
  • three days' journey = journey of three days

Apostrophe not needed

  • If the noun after "of" is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, then no apostrophe is needed!
  • room of the hotel = hotel room
  • door of the car = car door
  • leg of the table = table leg

Rules for adding apostrophe


  • Once you've determined whether you need to make a possessive, follow these rules to create one. 
       - add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s): the owner's car James's hat
       - add 's to the plural forms that do not end in -s:    the children's game the geese's honking
       - add ' to the end of plural nouns that end in -s:    houses' roofs three friends' letters
       - add 's to the end of compound words:    my brother-in-law's money
       - add 's to the last noun to show joint possession of an object:
       Todd and Anne's apartment

Showing omission of letters #2 Reason for Apostrophe

  • Showing omission of letters
  • Apostrophes are used in contractions. A contraction is a word (or set of numbers) in which one or more letters (or numbers) have been omitted. The apostrophe shows this omission. Contractions are common in speaking and in informal writing. To use an apostrophe to create a contraction, place an apostrophe where the omitted letter(s) would go.


  • don't = do not
  • I'm = I am
  • he'll = he will
  • who's = who is
  • shouldn't = should not
  • didn't = did not
  • could've= could have (NOT "could of"!)
  • '60 = 1960

Forming plurals of lowercase letters: Reason # 3 for using the apostrophe

  • Forming plurals of lowercase letters
  • Apostrophes are used to form plurals of letters that appear in lowercase; here the rule appears to be more typographical than grammatical, e.g. "three ps" versus "three p's." To form the plural of a lowercase letter, place 's after the letter. There is no need for apostrophes indicating a plural on capitalized letters, numbers, and symbols (though keep in mind that some editors, teachers, and professors still prefer them).



  • p's and q's = a phrase indicating politeness, possibly from "mind your pleases and thankyous"
  • Nita's mother constantly stressed minding one's p's and q's.
    three Macintosh G4s = three of the Macintosh model G4
    There are two G4s currently used in the writing classroom.
  • many &s = many ampersands
    That printed page has too many &s on it.
  • the 1960s = the years in decade from 1960 to 1969 The 1960s were a time of great social unrest.

Do Not use apostrophe if:


  • Don't use apostrophes for possessive pronouns or for noun plurals.
  • Apostrophes should not be used with possessive pronouns because possessive pronouns already show possession -- they don't need an apostrophe. His, her, its, my, yours, ours are all possessive pronouns.
  • wrong: his' book
  • correct: his book