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As well as being a punctuation mark used for contractions, apostrophes can be used to mark possession, in which case they are called possessive apostrophes.
In primary school, at KS2 level, children are taught how to recognise the different types of apostrophes used and their meaning. Through reading, writing and grammar exercises, they can expect to learn how to differentiate them and use them appropriately.
This helpful guide includes the definition and examples of using apostrophes for possession, as well as fun activities to help them retain their knowledge.
What Is A Possessive Apostrophe?
A possessive apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to show that one element of a sentence is connected to or belongs to another element. In other words, as its name indicates, it marks possession.
For example, if you wish to say that a book belongs to Robert, you could say the book is Robert's. The apostrophe and "s" added to Robert signify that the book belongs to him.
How To Use A Possessive Apostrophe?
There are four usage rules for possessive apostrophes depending on the words which they refer to:
- If the possessor is singular and does not end with an "s", you have to add an apostrophe and an "s" to it: Does the book belong to Robert? Yes, the book is Robert's.
- If the possessor is singular but ends with an "s", you have to add the possessive apostrophe to the end of the word: Does the book belong to Charles? Yes, the book is Charles'.
- If the possessor is plural and ends with an "s", you have to add the apostrophe to the end of it: Does the book belong to the girls? Yes, the book is the girls'.
- If the possessor is plural but does not end with an "s", you have to add an apostrophe and an "s" to the end of it: Does the book belong to the children? Yes, the book is the children's.
Activities To Use Possessive Apostrophes
Here are some ideas of exercises and activities to help your children to learn about using apostrophes for possession:
To practise their reading comprehension skills, find a passage in a book or write out a short text with different examples of possessive apostrophes, and other uses for apostrophes like contractions. Ask your child to show you where the possessive apostrophes are, by highlighting them for example.
To practise their grammar skills, prepare a quiz with full possessive sentences that don't use an apostrophe, followed by the equivalent sentence with a blank where the possessive element (and apostrophe) should be. Ask your child to fill in the blanks with the appropriate use of the apostrophe, and make sure to vary the forms of the words (plural, singular, ending in an "s" or not).
To practise their writing skills, ask your child to write a short story using as many examples of a possessive apostrophe as possible. If they need help, offer them a prompt.
To practise their speaking and fluency skills, speak a possessive question out loud, such as Do you know who this pen belongs to? and get your child to answer the question as quickly as possible using a possessive apostrophe construction such as Yes, it is the girls'. Once they have the correct answer, ask them how to spell their answer and to justify it.
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