You are here

Capital letters and apostrophes

Do you know how to use capital letters and apostrophes correctly?

Look at these examples to see how capital letters and apostrophes are used.

India celebrates Independence Day on 15 August.
Adam speaks English, Arabic and some Persian.
It's really cold today! They say it'll snow tonight.
Jane's staying at her parents' house this week.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Capital letters and apostrophers: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

Capitalisation

There are lots of times when you need to use capital letters – for example, to start a sentence or for the pronoun I. Here are some other important rules for using them.

Days, months and holidays

We capitalise days of the week, months and festivals, but not seasons.

His birthday party is on Thursday.
Schools are closed at Christmas.
It rains a lot in April and May, but the summer is very dry.

Names of people and places

We capitalise the names of people and places, including streets, planets, continents and countries.

Bea Jankowski has lived on Church Street in Manchester for 20 years.
The Earth is the third planet from the Sun.
Russia is in both Europe and Asia.

Words that come from the names of places – for example languages, nationalities and adjectives that refer to people or things from a country, region or city – are capitalised. We also capitalise nouns and adjectives that come from the names of religions.

Some Canadians speak French.
Londoners eat a lot of Indian food.
Most Muslims fast during the day for Ramadan.

Titles and names of institutions

The names of organisations and usually the important words in book and film titles are capitalised. When a person's job title goes before their name, capitalise both. If the title is separate from their name, capitalise only their name.

Salome Zourabichvili, the president of Georgia, is visiting President Alvi tomorrow.
The chief executive officer lives in New York.
We are reading
War and Peace with Ms Ioana, our teacher.

Apostrophes

We use an apostrophe to show a contraction or possession.

Contractions

We use an apostrophe to show where there are missing letters in contractions.

It's raining. (It's = It is)
Don't worry, it won't rain. (Don't = Do not; won't = will not)
She can't drive because she's broken her leg. (can't = cannot; she's = she has)
I'd like a coffee, please. (I'd = I would)
You'll be fine. (You'll = You will)

** Note that it's is a contraction of it is or it has. its is a possessive form of the pronoun it.

The dog is chasing its tail.
Are you sure it's OK for me to ring you so early?
It's rained a lot this week.

Possession

We also use an apostrophe with the letter s after a noun (normally a person, animal or group) to show that the noun owns someone or something.

My cat's favourite toy is a small, red ball.
Sadiq's parents live in Liverpool.

South Korea's economy is growing. 

Singular or plural

We use 's when the possessor is singular.

Marie's mother is going to Hong Kong.

We also use 's when the possessor is a plural noun that does not end in s.

The People's Republic of China
My cousin writes children's books.

When a plural noun ends in s, we put the apostrophe after the s (s').

This is a picture of my parents' house.
Our friend's new car is red. She just got it yesterday.
Our friends' new car is red. They just got it yesterday.

When a singular noun ends in s, we generally use 's.

James's brother-in-law is German.
He has a collection of Dickens's novels.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Capital letters and apostrophers: Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Hello Team. Is the following sentence correct? If so, I think it means that Mr Ali and Miss Ola are partners in more than one office. Is that right?
- Mr Ali and Miss Ola's offices are being painted at the moment.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is ambiguous. It could mean that they share a set of offices, or it could mean that they have different offices.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I was born on 9 January and I live in Viet Nam. My city is really beautiful and modern with a lot of speacial places or good you. If you have a chance to travel abrouiet Nam. My city is really beautiful and modern with a lot of speacial places or good you. If you have a chance to travel abroad, it will be a wonderful place you can explore.

well, it was late and I did not want to wake up
in Saudi, where the summer is very hot, camels
they have been to America, Ireland, and the south coast
yes, I would like some more please
we do not need a taxi, I suggest
she side: "all woman are powerful"
it was taken from the book 'Oliver Twist'
if you ever miss me, do not hesitate to call me
the trip was nice, there was a lot of trees

Hello

In the first test
Adila is staying at her ___ house while they are on holiday.
why parents' and not parent's

It's a collective noun and we use apostrophe before the letter -s
or not.!!

Hello Hemam,

'parent' is not a collective noun -- it refers to just one person.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir
Here the weeks don't show any possession than why we use (')?
Thanks

Hello Nabi,

We think of the work belonging to the day, I suppose. It is a rather odd use when you think about it but it's quite common:

Two weeks' work

A hundred dollars' worth

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Why "Holi" (holiday?) is with Capital in the Grammar test 1 ?

Hello soniariverofdez,

'Holi' is the name of a holiday of Indian origin. The names of holidays are capitalised.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Pages