Capital letters and apostrophes

Capital letters and apostrophes

Do you know how to use capital letters and apostrophes correctly? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Average: 4.2 (83 votes)

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Only 3 is correct. It's also possible to say something like 'We booked a holiday for three weeks', but I think most people would say 3 in most cases (I certainly would).

The phrase 'three-week' is a noun modifier, which you can read more about on our Noun modifiers and Possession and noun modifiers pages. It is indeed counter-intuitive that 'week' in 'a three-week holiday' is singular, but this is definitely correct and a very common error for learners to make. It might help to think of it as a kind of adjective, since essentially the first noun is acting as an adjective.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Thank you so much.
are the following sentences correct? If so, what is the difference between them and No. 3?
- We've booked three weeks' holiday.
- We've booked three-week holidays
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

I'm not sure I'd say the first one is incorrect, but I can't imagine when I'd say it. I understand the phrase 'three weeks' holiday' to mean 'three weeks of leave/time off'. So I could imagine someone saying 'I've asked my manager for three weeks' holiday', but I don't think we'd use the verb 'book' with the phrase.

I understand 'We've booked three-week holidays' to mean that different people have booked different holidays and that all of their holidays are three weeks long. If the people are all going on the same holiday, I'd recommend 'We've booked a three-week holiday'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by liipa on Fri, 28/04/2023 - 08:56

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Have found some info about 's. They say "you should use 's talking about specific periods of time or word which mean measure units".
e.g. yesterday's party
three month's holidays
one mile's distance

Cuz in my oppinion correct varients are: three month holidays and one mile distance.
Tell me please if it's correct rule?

Hi liipa,

It should be three months' holidays (with the apostrophe after the 's'). You can also say three-month holidays, using a hyphen (-) to make an adjective from "three" and "month".

You can do the same thing and say one-mile distance, but one mile's distance is also grammatical.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by Cris_02 on Sat, 08/04/2023 - 01:38

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I have a question, well I've noticed that some people omit the letter "g" in some words, for example:

Running - Runnin'

Playing - Playin'

Something - Somethin'

And even at the beginning, such as: ground - 'round

My biggest question is: How can I use it?

Just in Present/Past/Future continuous, or maybe Gerunds. Are there any rule to use it?

Hi Cris_02,

Well spotted! This is quite common. I think this happens in words ending with -ing when the final syllable is unstressed. It's not restricted to any particular structure or tense.

I'm not aware of 'g' being omitted at the beginning of a word. The word 'round is short for around.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by nimashiekanayake on Wed, 22/02/2023 - 16:15

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Hi!
Could you please help me to correct this writing?
1] Lets learn to colour or is it
2] Let's learn to colour

Thanks