Punctuation – apostrophes versus quotation marks

Punctuation marks

Punctuation has a very important function for the written language as it helps to build up a clear structure for a better clarification and comprehension of the text. While we can influence our speech by voice inflections and pauses, we need other signs for a better understanding of our reading and writing. This can be achieved by using punctuation marks. The application of punctuation marks is sometimes very tricky as each one can be used in many different ways. There are also some punctuation marks which can easily be mistaken as the even look identical. Two of them are doubtless the apostrophe and the single quotation mark.

Apostrophe or single quotation mark

First at all, let us have a closer look at the apostrophe, which has three main functions.

  • it indicates possession
  • it stands for substituted letters
  • it is being used to form the plural of certain letters and numbers

To indicate possession means to show that something belongs to somebody, e.g the girl's cat means that the cat belongs to the girl. If the singular noun ends in a “s” or a “z”, you can decide, whether to add just the apostrophe or the apostrophe and an additional s (s's). If you want to form plural possession with a noun ending with an “s”, you have to position the apostrophe after the “s”, without adding an additional “s” e.g., two girls' cats.

There are many more rules, when to place or leave the apostrophe or when it is necessary to add an additional “s” - too many rules to mention all in detail here. But you can find an overview of the exact application at Wikipedia.

The second aim of apostrophes is to serve as a substitute for one or more omitted letters. In this case an apostrophe contracts a word and it stands for the dropped letter(s), e.g., “don't” stands for “do not”, “it's” stands for “it is”.

Apostrophes are also used to form the plural of lowercase letters or certain numbers. For the better understanding are here some examples: “Please, dot your i's and cross your t's” or “in the '80s”.

Quotation marks

Quotation marks are a kind of punctuation marks, which always comes in pairs with an opening and a closing mark bracketing a chosen text or word.

The aim of quotation marks is to emphasize different parts of a text, to signalize direct speech, dialogues or quotations, as well as to set off titles, phrases or just single words. Quotation marks are also called inverted commas, speech marks, or quotes.

Quotation marks can be used in two styles; single (‘ ’ or ') or double (“ ” or "), and can also appear in two different typefaces; either as so called dumb or straight quotes (' or ") or as smart quotes (‘ ’ or “ ”). Read more about quotation marks at Wikipedia.

Easy to be mistaken

The danger of confusion consists in the identical form of the closing single quotation mark and the apostrophe. There are even two other punctuation marks – the prime symbol and the acute accent – which are similar in their form as well, but serve a completely different purpose. All four punctuation marks – quotation marks, apostrophe, prime symbol, and acute accent – are often mistaken, so the danger of confusion increases and many mistakes can creep in.

Easily type the correct punctuation marks

To avoid the improper usage of the different punctuation marks, Typinator can help a lot. Just define mnemonics for the different types of punctuation marks. Once defined, you can use these mnemonics and Typinator will insert the correct symbols for your. Even better – for bracketing punctuation marks, you can set up Typinator to insert the opening and closing punctuation mark at once and then place the cursor between the two marks such that you can conveniently continue typing right between the opening and closing punctuation mark.

But Typinator has many more other features. Typinator is a general auto-typing and auto-correction tool. It comes with thousands of predefined corrections for common typos and misspelled words for the languages English, German, and French. Out of the box, it will automatically correct your misspellings - system-wide in any application.

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