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Write the Right Word: When Not to Use an Apostrophe

Apostrophes often indicate letters are missing in a word, such as 4-H’er. 4-H’er is a shortened version of “4-H member.” The apostrophe takes the place of the letters “memb.”

Apostrophes also can denote possession, such as in “Sarah’s book.” The apostrophe indicates the book belongs to Sarah.

But you don’t need an apostrophe in a word ending in “s” when it is used primarily as a description. For example: owners manual, teachers college, RedHawks pitcher, producers request.

The line between possession and description can be a little fuzzy. So here’s an easy way to remember the difference: Don’t use an apostrophe if you can use “for” or “by” in the phrase. For instance: a manual for owners, a college for teachers, a pitcher for the RedHawks, a request by producers.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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