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Introduction to the apostrophe

David and Paige, KA’s resident grammarians, introduce a new piece of punctuation: the apostrophe! 

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello Grammarians Hello Paige, - [Voiceover] Hi, David. - [Voiceover] Hello apostrophe! Today we're going to start talking about a different piece of punctuation and that piece of punctuation is the apostrophe it kind of looks like a comma, but it's one that floats in the air Here's the ground, here's the word ground, And if we say Paige's dog Atti we're using the apostrophe, not shown to scale obviously in one of its three different applications. So the apostrophe can do three things. Thing number one: it can stand in for missing letters. - [Voiceover] So when an apostrophe stands in for missing letters that's called a contraction - [Voiceover] So what does that look like, what does a contraction look like in context? - [Voiceover] So another way to say something like "I did not eat the cookie." Is to say "I didn't eat the cookie." - [Voiceover] So that apostrophe there represents the 'O' being taken out and everything being squished together into this new word 'didn't' So "Did not" gets (sucks) together, and then we attach this apostrophe to show that we've contracted, or shortened or shrunk, these two words. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] Paige, join me on screen number two and let's talk about thing number two. - [Voiceover] Let's go. - [Voiceover] So the second thing that an apostrophe can do is show that something belongs to someone, what we call possession. - [Voiceover] So you can use an apostrophe to say something like "That's David's cursed skull." - [Voiceover] It's true. It's been in my family for generations. But what is going on here? What is this doing the same work as? - [Voiceover] So the sentence basically means that cursed skull belongs to David. This first sentence, "That's David's cursed skull" is kind of just an easier way to say that. - [Voiceover] So apostrophes can show contraction much like we're also doing in this part of the sentence as well with "That's", because this is a shorter version of "That is David's cursed skull." but we're condensing that or contracting that into "That's" but it's also being used for its second purpose here which is "David's", and this is what we call the possessive or the genitive case. Saying that, this cursed skull belongs to me. Paige, what's the third use of apostrophes? It's pretty rare. - [Voiceover] The third use does not happen very often, but apostrophes can occasionally be used to make words plural. - [Voiceover] Okay, because I was always taught never to use apostrophes to pluralize stuff. Like the plural of book is books, not "Book's". That's wrong. - [Voiceover] Yeah, so there a-- - [Voiceover] This is the plural, and this is something belonging to a book. - [Voiceover] Right, the book's pages. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] So there's really only one case where you'd want to use an apostrophe to make something plural. - [Voiceover] What is that case? - [Voiceover] That case is when you're trying to make the plural of lower case letter. - [Voiceover] Like, "I'm really bad at drawing 's's." - [Voiceover] Right. If you didn't have that apostrophe there, it might kinda just look like (hisses) - [Voiceover] So I could say, for example, "I like to draw j's" and "Remember to dot your j's and i's" Like that, to denote that their plural, to indicate there's some kind of separation between this lowercase letter and this lowercase letter. And that we're trying to say that there are multiple j's and i's. - [Voiceover] Right. Especially with something like i's, if you didn't have that apostrophe there, it would probably just look like you were trying to write the word is. - [Voiceover] Sure. So this is kind of a work-around. - [Voiceover] Exactly. - [Voiceover] So this usage is extremely rare, that's why I put it in parentheses, because I really want to de-emphasize this last usage. Super rare. So more importantly the first two things are the most important. Number one, contractions make stuff shorter like "I did not eat the cookie." to "I didn't eat the cookie." And possession, showing ownership. So instead of saying "That cursed skull belongs to David" you would say "That is David's cursed skull." - [Voiceover] Exactly. - [Voiceover] And that's an overview of the three powers of the apostrophe. You can learn anything, David out. - [Voiceover] Paige out.