Apostrophes and Parentheses

Apostrophes

Apostrophes have two main uses:

  • To indicate possession
  • To form contractions

Showing Possession

When we need to express ownership or possession, we use an apostrophe before ‘s’ in the case of singular possessors, or after ‘s’ for plural possessors.

For example, to show that a book belongs to John, we would write: “This is John’s book.”

When a group of students owns a classroom, we’d state: “This is the students’ classroom.”

However, when plural possessors don’t end in ‘s’, we apply the same rule as for singular possessors: “The children’s park is newly renovated.”

Forming Contractions

Apostrophes also help in forming contractions, where they indicate left-out letters. This is typically seen when two words are combined into one.

For example:

  • “it’s” is a contraction of “it is”
  • “you’re” stands for “you are”
  • “don’t” is a shortened form of “do not”.

Similarly, “we’ll” is a contraction of “we will” and “she’d” can stand for both “she would” and “she had”, depending on the context.

Remember to be careful with its and it’s, as these are often confused. “Its” is a possessive pronoun used when referring to something that owns something else. Conversely, “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”.

Parentheses

Parentheses (round brackets) are used to enclose additional information that serves to clarify or to provide extra details within a sentence.

The information inside parentheses can be a single word, a phrase or even a complete sentence. However, this information is not essential to the main sentence, which should be able to stand on its own without the content in the parentheses.

  • For example: “The concert (which was held in the park) was a huge success.” This sentence would still make sense if the phrase in parentheses was removed: “The concert was a huge success.”

Parentheses can also enclose numbers or letters used for listed items within a sentence.

  • For example: “Please bring the following items: (1) a pen, (2) a notebook, and (3) your textbook.”

Also, we can use them to provide clarification or definition: “The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) will be visiting our office tomorrow.”

In some cases, parentheses may enclose entire sentences. When a sentence in parentheses falls within another sentence, do not use punctuation within the parentheses. However, when the entire sentence is within parentheses, the end punctuation also falls within the parentheses.

For example: “He finally answered (after taking five minutes to think) that he did not understand the question.” versus “(He did not understand the question.)”

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