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Using Apostrophes Correctly bY Certified Japanese Translation Services

A translator, at the end of the day, is a writer, and as punctuation errors, as well as poor style, lower the quality of the final product, it is essential for Japanese translators to have a firm grasp of the basic rules. 

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In this article, we provide a refresher course on how to use the apostrophe correctly, including an explanation of one confusing case.

The two main uses of apostrophes are for omitted letters and possession. The first usage is simple enough. Two words are joined together to make a compound word in which one letter is omitted and replaced by the apostrophe. Examples of this rule are as follows.

I did not do it -> I didn’t do it.
It is a beautiful day -> It’s a beautiful day.

The second use is to indicate possession. You can use an apostrophe to show that a thing belongs or relates to someone or something. The main guidelines for using apostrophes to show possession are as follows.

  1. In the case of a singular noun or most personal names, add an apostrophe plus “s”.
    e.g. Tom’s iPhone is the latest model
  2. For pronouns that end in “s”, add an apostrophe plus “s” if you would normally pronounce the double-s if you said the word out loud
    e.g. Dickens’s famous novels.
    You should be on the alert for exceptions to this rule, however, such as “St Thomas’ Hospital”
  3. For plural nouns, that end in - “s”, add an apostrophe after the “s”
    e.g. The boys’ toys made a mess on the floor (when the toys belong to more than one boy)
  4. For plural nouns that do not end in an - “s”, treat them the same as singular nouns
    e.g. The children’s father came to see me.

A confusing case exists in relation to the use of “it” with apostrophes. Basically, it follows the rule for omission but not for possession. So, you can say “It’s the same thing” but not “It’s head fell off”, even though the head clearly belongs to whatever “it” is. This inconsistency in the rules often causes confusion.

In conclusion, there are mainly only two uses for the apostrophe and most of the rules are straightforward. Just note the exceptions for plural pronouns and avoid confusion with “it” and apostrophes should cause you few problems. As a translator writer, grammatical accuracy is just as important as translation accuracy, which is especially relevant for legal personal documents requiring certified translation Japanese English.

About the Author
Simon Way is a contributing author to SAECULII YK, experts in Certified Japanese Translation Services in Tokyo, Japan. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news on Japanese translation service

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