A Good Night’s Sleep and an Apostrophe

Should you use an apostrophe when you write about “a good night’s sleep”? Yes.

You’ve probably heard a teacher say that an apostrophe signifies ownership. That statement is correct, but it’s only part of the apostrophe story.

Apostrophes signify “of” ideas. Mary’s car means “car of Mary.” Dennis’ dog means “dog of Dennis.” And so on.

The apostrophe in “a good night’s sleep” means “sleep of a night.”

Time expressions often use apostrophes. A day’s pay means “pay of a day.” Two weeks’ vacation means “vacation of two weeks.” A moment’s delay means “delay of a moment.”

“Before the s or after the s?” If you take a minute to look at the example, you’ll have the answer: Spell the word (day, weeks, night, moment, Dennis, Mary) and put the apostrophe after the last letter.

Here they are again: Mary’s car, Dennis’ dog, a good night’s sleep, a day’s pay, two weeks’ vacation, a moment’s delay.

(To learn more about apostrophes, click here.)


Today’s Quiz ANSWER

Today’s sentence is incorrect. Loose (rhymes with goose) means “not tight.” The word needed here is lose.

You’ll need that pass to get in tomorrow, so don’t lose it. CORRECT

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