Chicago Style Workout 65: Apostrophes

A chalkboard sidewalk sign for a restaurant in Helsinki, Finland. The sign reads "Homemade Burger's, Pitsa's, Wing's. Also Takeaway & Wolt." Note the "grocer’s apostrophe" in three places and the word "pizza" spelled as p-i-t-s-a.

They’re Everywhere

Apostrophes, like quotation marks, hang out far above the baseline, where they have two main roles: contraction and possession. They also occasionally have a third role: as a marker of the plural.

To find out more—and to test your apostrophe knowledge—take the quiz.

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in most of the answers). (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: Style guides sometimes disagree. Except for a few details that can be verified in standard dictionaries and encyclopedias and other readily available sources, the answers in this quiz rely on the information in the 17th edition of CMOS.

Chicago Style Workout 65: Apostrophes

1. A smart (or curly) apostrophe is identical to
2. Only one of the following is in Chicago style. Which one?
3. In Chicago style, an apostrophe is required when forming the plural of
4. Possessive pronouns usually include an apostrophe.
5. There are no apostrophes in the place-names Harpers Ferry and Pikes Peak. Why?
6. Which of the following correctly refers to the home of a family with the last name James?
7. When a word like Smiths’ (a possessive plural) appears at the end of a sentence, the period should
8. In Chicago style, “six feet” would be abbreviated in which of the following ways:
9. An apostrophe in a contraction never replaces more than three letters.
10. The nonstandard use of apostrophes in plural’s—make that plurals—has often been blamed on


Top image: Chalkboard sidewalk sign for a restaurant in Helsinki, Finland. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

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