Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on March 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 185

Apostrophe occurs when a narrator or speaker directly addresses an absent (or no longer living) person, an object, an abstract idea, or something or someone imagined as if the addressee were a present, living person able to hear and understand them. Examples of apostrophe sometimes, though not always, begin with “O” or “Oh.”

Illustration of PDF document

Download Guide to Literary Terms Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Correct examples:

  • “O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells . . .”
  • In Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain! My Captain!” the speaker directly addresses his dead captain.
  • “Oh! Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me . . .”
  • In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor directly addresses the stars, clouds, and winds.
  • “Death be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so . . .”
  • In John Donne’s sonnet “Death Be Not Proud,” the speaker directly addresses Death.
  • “Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand? / Come, let me clutch thee! / I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.”
  • In Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth directly addresses an imagined dagger.


Explore all literary terms.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial




Explore Study Guides