` is not an apostrophe

For whatever reason, many people tend to confuse the apostrophe ’ with the symbol ` when writing. Some typical examples are

it`s, don`t, let`s

instead of

it’s, don’t, let’s

The use of ` instead of ’ is quite surprising because on an English keyboard, the apostrophe is much easier and faster to type. Using either ’ or ` is not just a matter of taste:

Contractions or possessive forms in the English language are formed using the apostrophe ’. The corresponding key on English keyboards is located to the left of the Enter key:

The symbol ` (the key is located just under the ESC key on English keyboards) is called a grave accent or a backquote. It is used to modify the pronunciation of letters in some languages, and for quotations.

For more details on quotation marks and other symbols, see here.

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4 thoughts on “` is not an apostrophe

  1. Masters of the University – painful english

  2. How to correctly use ‘nen in German – painfulenglish

  3. In this article you are also being quite confusing. See, you keep calling the symbol ‘ an apostrophe, when that is actually an opening quotation mark. The apostrophe is actually ’, the same as the closing quotation mark. You do, however, use this correctly in the three contracted words you listed.

    • Thank you so much for spotting this! The problem is that WordPress automatically displayed my apostrophes (as entered in the text editor) as opening quotation marks because they were surrounded by spaces. To enforce the correct symbols one has to use the html symbol ’.

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