Tip 6 looked at apostrophes for possession. This week we look at apostrophes for omission – for leaving letters out when two words join.

For example: do not – don’t

Notice the apostrophe goes where there is a missing o. It does NOT go where the words were joined together: do’nt is WRONG.

Here are some examples where one letter is left out for omission:

Who is – who’s
Where is – where’s
We are – we’re
How is – how’s

Here more than one letter is removed:

I have – I’ve
We have – we’ve
You have – you’ve
Can not – can’t
Will not – won’t
Have not – haven’t
He had – he’d

Check yourself
Read the sentences below. Can you combine the underlined words correctly, using an apostrophe? Try it and then see the answer underneath.

Where is your work? You have not handed in your reports for two weeks now. It is getting serious, and I am no longer prepared to stand up for you any longer. This can not go on. I have had enough. You had better start working.

Where is your work? You haven’t handed in your reports for two weeks now. It’s getting serious, and I’m no longer prepared to stand up for you any longer. This can’t go on. I’ve had enough.