Is the following sentence missing an apostrophe? If so, where?: She was told to circle all the 5s in Toms history book.

1 Answer
Mar 25, 2016

Only one apostrophe is needed. The correct sentence is: "She was told to circle all the 5s in Tom's history book."


Apostrophes can denote two things:

  • possession (in the form of Bob's car or the rabbit's carrot)
  • contractions (as in wasn't, it's, won't)

In the sentence, we see that Tom owns his history book, so an apostrophe is necessary in the phrase "Tom's history book".

The trick in this question is that you may want to put in apostrophe in "5s". You shouldn't. This is a common error that many native speakers (and writers) make.

Since the "5s" do not own anything, there is no reason to include the apostrophe, which denotes ownership.

Other similar errors include:

  • the 1950's
  • All the ATM's at the bank were being used.
  • The Oreo's tasted delicious.

It is tempting to put apostrophes between numbers and the letter "s", as well as following acronyms like ATM or DVD, or after brand names.

All of the following are correct:

  • the 1950s
  • All the ATMs at the bank were being used.
  • The Oreos tasted delicious.

These are similar to the "5s" vs. "5's" problem -- the correct version is 5s.