I was explaining it's vs. its to someone the other day, and I said "None of the pronouns (his, hers, theirs, yours, its, whose, ...) has an apostrophe." Later I got to wondering whether that was really true, and sure enough fairly quickly found one that does: one's, as in "One's memory isn't what it used to be."

Are there other pronouns that use an apostrophe?

  • Actually, the possessive it's used to have an apostrophe not very long ago. See Etymonline: "at first commonly written it's, a spelling retained by some to the beginning of the 19c". Wiktionary has cites from 1603 and 1751. – RegDwigнt Dec 15 '11 at 12:10
  • @RegDwightѬſ道: The number of apostrophes in common English usage seems to decrease over time, as with hyphens. I'm talking about current usage. – T.J. Crowder Dec 15 '11 at 14:06
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    I don't share you're impression that the number of apostrophe's in common English decrease's over time. – RegDwigнt Dec 15 '11 at 16:01
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    @RegDwightѬſ道: (LOL!) Just read Shakespeare, or look at just about any other early modern English text. Capitals and apostrophes all over the place. :-) – T.J. Crowder Dec 15 '11 at 16:15
  • When you are doing apostrophes in possessive nouns you will get word like somebody's, someone's, orchards'. When your doing orchards' it's more then one thing so it will have to be s aposterfiy. And when it's someone's or somebody's then it only one so it would be aposterfiy s. – user54790 Oct 23 '13 at 22:28

Everybody's, everyone's, somebody's, someone's, anybody's, anyone's, nobody's, no one's.


And also the reciprocal pronouns: each other's, one another's.

  • +1, and the informal y'all's from wiki; btw, these pronouns are not considered personal or are they? – Unreason Dec 15 '11 at 9:16
  • Ah! Of course, I should have got there. :-) – T.J. Crowder Dec 15 '11 at 9:38
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    @Unreason: No, they're indefinite pronouns. – Barrie England Dec 15 '11 at 9:49
  • It's the one or body at the end that requires the apostrophe; they're still nouns, though they're only hanging on by a thread. The first part of these compounds (some, every, any) are just quantifiers. Latin used to do similar things with quisquis and quoque. General rule: whatever part gets the genitive stuck on it determines the apostrophiliation. – John Lawler Dec 15 '11 at 16:03
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    Grammatical classes, like noun, verb, and pronoun, are just convenient groupings with similar properties, like subatomic particles, and -- since linguistics doesn't involve numbers like quantum mechanics does, and therefore can't calculate values -- they're mostly just traditional. (Though they do change, slowly; Latin had eight traditional "Parts of Speech", and so does English. But not the same eight.) – John Lawler Dec 16 '11 at 16:27

I taught English for twenty-eight years, and I think that the confusion is that none of the possessive pronouns use apostrophes. This is confusing because possessive nouns use apostrophes. The pronouns mentioned, such as everyone's, etc., are indefinite pronouns--not possessives.

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