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Greetings! There are obviously different rules for written and spoken English. While in speech you could say: "my dream's taken away," as a contraction for my dream is taken away. However, I do not believe it is proper English to write this contraction because of the confusion arising from the possessive interpretation of  the word dream's, implying taken is possessed by the dream. I cannot seem to find any rule for this question, maybe because I do not know how to word it. I just keep finding apostrophe rules for possessives. Thank you! 

Original Post

Hi, Mark,

In formal written English, [apostrophe + s] is normally reserved for possessives. However, in less formal English, we do sometimes use [apostrophe + s] to express a contraction of "is" or "has" in addition to the possessive:

(a) If your dog's taken away, don't be alarmed. (contraction of "is")
(b) If your dog's been taken away, don't be alarmed. (contraction of "has")
(c) If your dog's bone is missing, don't be alarmed. (possessive)

Last edited by David, Moderator
Mark Twain posted:

Right, so then in formal written English it would be improper to write the contraction, as the possessive form of the sentence is correct as formally written? Meaning, you absolutely would not write the contracted form of the word, in formal written English.

There is no absolute restriction here. It is perfectly grammatical to use [apostrophe + s] for contracting "is" or "has," and it need not always signify possession in formal writing.

However, it does tend only to be used for possession in formal writing, and where there are exceptions it is generally with "it's" and "that's". Note that "it's" is NEVER possessive when written with the apostrophe.

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