Milton’s Friendly Guide To The Apostrophe

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    Fuckin’ awesome!

  • Andy

    The possessive form of “your”, as in “yours”, mimics that of “its”, and does not require an apostrophe either.

    I would have expected ‘Tis Himself, above, to think of other times where an apostrophe might be used ;)

    I like signs where one or two random plurals in a list have an apostrophe while all the other pluralised words in the same list don’t. So you you get things like…

    > PIES
    > HOT DOG’S

  • Andy

    …oh, and yes, I realise “yours” isn’t exactly possessive in the same sense, in that we don’t say “that’s yours car”, but it feels possessive and I’ve seen it used with apostrophes and recall having to check correct usage myself.

    I’ve never understood why “its” does not require an apostrophe. It feels wrong.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I always did this as a lesson:

      Look, it’s the cat!
      Its tail is black!
      We are talking about the cat. It has a black tail.
      We are not saying that “it is tail is black”. We’re saying that it has a black tail.
      If you are in doubt, remember the cat and remember that its tail is black – and think whether or not you are using the right “its / it’s”.

      • Daniel

        Its true, your right.

      • Andy

        I get, and accept, the distinction, just not the reasoning that makes it so. I always felt both should have an apostrophe because one is shortened and the other possessive.

        Kylie’s blog. Andy’s comment. It’s response.

        But then, this is English we’re talking about.

        • Robert B.

          The rule is, don’t use an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun.


          “Its” is not an exception, it’s perfectly regular. It’s only confusing because “it’s” is also a word, while there is no such word as “hi’s”.

          • Andy

            Yep, I was referring to the possessive pronoun rule in my first comment. I accept it as the rule, I just don’t get how it became one.

            I think I’d be comfortable with our’s, their’s and your’s, were it not for the rule.

  • F


    • Sharon

      Will be sharing this.

  • onefuriousllama

    OK, printing that and pasting it on my wall (my wife will be so proud…)

  • Winterwind

    Fascist’s! Linguistic purist’s! Reel grammarian’s no that ones ap’ostrophe useage is’ purely s’tylistic.

    A’ustralian Greengrocer’s As’sociation’