Here are some examples of contraction, where the apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter or letters:
- Rama didn't stop searching until he found Sita and rescued her.
(contraction: didn't = did not)
- The people couldn't believe that Sita had remained faithful to Rama.(contraction: couldn't = could not)
- Sita, Rama's wife, was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king.
(possession: Rama's wife = the wife of Rama, singular)
- He carried her far away to Lanka, the demons' island.
(possession: the demons' island = the island of the demons, plural)
There are a few simple rules about how to use the apostrophe to indicate possession:
- For a singular noun, add apostrophe-s: Sita was Rama's wife.
(NOTE: When a singular noun ends in -s, you will sometimes see just an apostrophe instead of apostrophe-s, especially when the final syllable is not stressed. For example: Peleus was Achilles' father. In modern usage, though, you will also see apostrophe-s added even to words that end in an unstressed syllable. For example: Jesus's mother was named Mary. So, as a general rule, you should add apostrophe-s to any singular noun, even if it ends in s. Try pronouncing the word out loud: if you pronounce the apostrophe syllable as a separate syllable of its own, you should definitely add apostrophe-s!)
- For a plural noun that ends in -s, just add an apostrophe: Ravana carried Sita far away to Lanka, the demons' island.
- For a plural noun that does not end in -s, add apostrophe-s: Rama smiled when he saw his children's faces.
IMPORTANT NOTE. The apostrophe is NOT USED to indicate PLURAL NOUNS in English. When you want to create a plural noun in English, you add "s" - you do NOT add an apostrophe to create the plural form of a noun, even an unusual noun:
- Ravana and the other rakshasas lived on the island of Lanka.
(rakshasas, NOT rakshasa's)
- IT'S = "it is" but ITS = "belonging to it" (no apostrophe)
- THEY'RE = "they are" but THEIR = "belonging to them" (no apostrophe)
- YOU'RE = "you are" but YOUR = "belonging to you" (no apostrophe)
- WHO'S = "who is" but WHOSE = "belonging to whom" (no apostrophe)
This is a painting of Ravana and Sita; see Wikipedia for more information (and yes, Ravana does have ten hands and twenty arms).