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Tip #803: Confusing contractions

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If a word ends with an apostrophe + s (‘s), how can you tell if the ‘s’ indicates a possessive, or if it stands for "is" or "has"?

When (‘s) is attached to a third-person noun followed by a verb + ing, it stands for "is". Ex: Manuel's speaking now. (Manuel is speaking now.)

When (‘s) is attached to a third-person noun followed by a past participle, it stands for "has". Ex: Christina's learned the new coding. (Christina has learned the new coding.)

When (‘s) is attached to a third-person noun followed by another noun, it stands for the possessive. Ex: Mr. Hanson's job requires him to work 12-hour shifts. (The job belongs to Mr. Hanson.)

While it is important to understand these contractions, “is” and “has” should be fully spelled out, and not contracted, in professional writing.


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