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)
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Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 08:27

In reply to by Nabi

Permalink

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

Submitted by soniariverofdez on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 16:54

Permalink
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

Submitted by Via on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 01:33

Permalink
Hello, I'd like to ask the different between it's and its, I still don't get it. (Please correct me if I made any grammer errors in this comment). Thank you.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 08:13

In reply to by Via

Permalink

Hello Via,

'it's' is a different way of saying or writing 'it is'. Notice that 'it' is a subject and 'is' is a verb.

'its' is a possessive form that describes a noun. In 'The dog is chasing its tail', 'its' shows that the tail belongs to the dog. 'its' describes the noun.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 10:21

Permalink
Hello. Please. Which one is correct? Why? 1- I have three weeks' holiday a year. 2- I have three weeks holiday a year. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The correct form is with the apostrophe: three weeks' holiday.

 

I noticed you posted the same question (or very similar) twice. Please remember to post questions only once. We answer as quickly as we can and multiple posts only slow the process down.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fahima mahjabin on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 14:47

Permalink
Please clarify my confusion regarding this sentence.. What's more, the crows' responses didn't simply correspond with the brightness and ..... My confusion is "Crows' "Showing plural so why used "the" and if it is plural then why used " responses" Thanks in advance

Hello Fahima mahjabin,

It's fine to use 'the' with plural nouns. 'The' tells us that we know which group of crows (plural) we are talking about. It is not a random group, but a group that has already been identified.

'Responses' here is a noun, not a verb. You can see that the word 'crows' before it has an apostrophe, so the meaning is 'the responses of the crows', and that is the subject of the verb '(didn't) correspond'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team