I will look at the obvious cases first. These are where we deliberately shorten a word or phrase and then use an apostrophe to show that letters are missing.
These are called contractions.
|In full||Letters missing||Shortened form|
|my car is there||i||my car's there|
|the coat is on the peg||i||the coat's on the peg|
|Tom is going out.||i||Tom's going out.|
The list above does not contain every possible abbreviated form, but from that one can see how the apostrophe goes in place of the missing letters. Missing spaces do not get an apostrophe. Think of it this way, it was a space so there was nothing to go missing in the first place!
People often confuse you're and your. But now you know the rule, you need never confuse them again! You're is short for You are, while your means belonging to you, as in "your head is probably spinning by now".
There, their and they're are often confused but there is a place, their means belonging to them and they're is short for they are.
It's and its cause confusion, asking why doesn't its have an apostrophe when it shows possession, but it does when it's a contraction of it is? Be patient, dear reader, all will made clear soon.
I have mentioned belonging already. So what about possessives, I can hear you saying to your computer screen? It is in fact the same rule.
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