I wonder if CTM in Brookvale, Sydney Australia, still has NO PICK UP’S ON SATURDAY’S.

Misuse of the apostrophe is common and give a negative impression of an author’s writing skills…

(from http://www.apostropheabuse.com/) - Richard writes: Here's some real exclusivity! A bookstore in Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand is holding a festival for one writer and one reader. I wonder who the lucky pair were.

Here are some rules that are not difficult to remember.

Expressions of Time

It was previously conventional to use an apostrophe in expressions of time involving a plural reference, such as:

  • Six weeks’ time
  • Three months’ wages

The apostrophe is now often left out, i.e.:

  • Six weeks time
  • Three months wages

The sense of these phrases tends to be more descriptive than possessive.

When the time reference is in the singular, however, the apostrophe should be retained to help mark the noun as singular:

A day’s journey, the year’s cycle

– Source: Style Manual, 6th edition.

It’s vs. its

It’s not correct to leave the apostrophe out if it’s a matter of ‘it is’.


It’s the cat’s habit to chase its tale (this is a cat with character). It is: it’s. The nose belongs to it: its nose.

1.         It’s = It is

2.         Its = belonging to it

Numbers and dates

  • Numbers and dates, such as in his 60s, fly 767s, during the 1980s—All the regional style manuals including the Chicago Manual (2003) agree on this [no apostrophe]. Apostrophes are usually there in the plural of single numbers, as in All the 2’s and 3’s were missing.
  • If there are two or more owners, add ‘s’ then an apostrophe.


Acknowledgement of others’ views… (Plural ‘others’—the views belonging to others)

The candidates’ views were not considered. (Plural of candidate)

  • If there’s one owner, add an apostrophe and then ‘s’.

… initiatives or strategic ways in which the successful candidate’s learning could be leveraged.

  • The exception to this rule is:

For words which form their plural by changing internal letters (instead of adding ‘s’), the apostrophe comes before the ‘s’.

It was the children’s turn to wash up.

Some other words which follow this rule are: men, women, people.

Joint ownership or association is shown by placing the apostrophe -s on the second of the two owners;

  • His mother and father’s legacy
  • Rutherford and Bohr’s atom

In contrast, where the ownership is not joint, each name takes and apostrophe;

His mother’s and father’s voices

Sibelius’s and Grieg’s works


[Content of this post © Ascension Editing 2010]


* Wishing everyone a very blessed 2015*

Hello! I’m Annie Smit, trading as Ascension Editing. This site offers writing tips for those interested in current Australian standard editing practice (as well as some UK and US preferences on English grammar and style), while the additional pages offer information about my company.

‘All living languages exist in a state of tension between growth and decay. Languages change because playfulness and the desire to impress are universal human traits; they grow in response to technological innovation, cultural contact and social developments. Working against these impulses to the new are the forces of stability: inertia, the fear of being misunderstood, and the fixative effect of writing.’

‘Spelling is not important in itself, but it is a social marker enabling those who can spell to look down on those who can’t.’

‘Remember that literacy is an accident of birth and does not confer superior wisdom or virtue.’

The Editor’s Companion by Janet Mackenzie.