THE SMALL DIFFERENCE that makes a big difference

February 2019: How to use (possessive) apostrophe in Danish and English

2019.02.18 | LVS/CKR

Forming possessives of nouns and pronouns (i.e. marking that one thing belongs to something/someone) is very different in Danish and English. 

In Danish, there are three types of possessive endings: 

EndingExample
-s (without an apostrophe)     Mikkels computer er gået i stykker.
-’ (after names, nouns, pronouns and
abbreviations ending on -s or -z)    
Anders eksamen gik godt.
-’s (after abbreviations)        BTECH’s personalefester er sjove.

In English, you must always add an apostrophe when forming possessives, e.g.:

  • The department’s study programmes focus on business and engineering.

If the noun is plural or singular and ends in -s, you form the possessive simply by adding the apostrophe, e.g.:

  •  The lecturers’ knowledge of English is really good.

Many confuse possessive forms and contractions, where two words (a noun or pronoun and a verb) are written in one word. Therefore, please pay attention to the following: Its and it's, you're and your, who's and whose, and they're, their and there. E.g.:

  • The department is successful. Its staff is very helpful.
  • It’s (it is) great seeing you again.
  • Your book is really interesting.
  • You’re (you are) the best!
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