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Possessives and Apostrophes

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by

Toni Holt

on 3 March 2015

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Transcript of Possessives and Apostrophes

DO NOT
use an apostrophe to make a noun plural.

INCORRECT

CORRECT

modem’s
modems

cell phone’s
cell phones

computer’s
computers

Venetian blind’s
Venetian blinds

the cleaner’s
the cleaners

used textbook’s
used textbooks

mortgage’s
mortgages

policies’
policies

notebook’s
notebooks

test result’s
test results

Use only an -
s
or an -
es
to form the plural of a proper noun.

The Simpsons
Keeping up with the Joneses
the Kennedys
the Harrises
Several Johnsons, Smiths, and Lopezes in the city directory
Two Gladyses in my lit class
the two Justins
Six Grammys, five Oscars, and two Tonys

Three Common Uses of the Apostrophe
in contractions
for omissions
for possessives
y'all
you all
'08 and '09
Charles's ladybug
What is a possessive?
A possessive is a word that uses an apostrophe to show ownership.
the two boys' bikes
the turtle's shell
my mother's recipe
Tess's scarf
California's governor
my parents' permission
Use an apostrophe to substitute for the prepositions
of
,
by
,
with
, and
for
.
a doctor
’s
appointment (appointment
with
the doctor)
a week
’s
notice (notice
of
one week)
the children
’s
toys (toys
for
the children)
President
s’
Day (Day
for
[two] Presidents)
the boss
’s
desk (desk
of
the boss)
Sophocles

plays (plays
by
Sophocles)

While possessives almost always have apostrophes, possessive pronouns and plurals that do not show ownership do not require apostrophes.
theirs,
not
their
's
several countries,
not
several country
's
Other Possessive Pronouns
its
whose
yours
ours
hers
Making Nouns Possessive
Some possessives require an apostrophe and an -
s
.

Singular nouns
:
the mayor’s views

(Exceptions include
ancient proper names ending in -
es
and such expressions as
for conscience’ sake
.)

Plural nouns that do not end in -
s
:
children’s hospital

Some possessives require only an apostrophe.

Plural nouns that end in -
s
:
the Joneses’ van

Use an
apostrophe and -
s
in these instances:
For singular nouns before plural nouns or other singular nouns:
attorney
’s
fees
,
the book
’s
editor
For singular nouns ending in -
s
:
Bill Gates
’s
computer
OR
Bill Gates

computer
(unless the pronunciation is distorted:
Ulysses

computer
, NOT
Ulysses
’s
computer
)
For plural nouns not ending in -
s
:
the people
’s
court
,
women
’s
rights
For time periods:
1900
’s
OR
1900
s
(optional)
For plurals of initials and abbreviations:
two Ph.D
’s
on the faculty,

several TV
’s
or TV
s
(optional)
Use an
apostrophe and

-
s
in
these instances:
For indefinite pronouns: nobody
’s
business
For joint ownership: Ted and Jane
’s
wedding
For individual ownership: Ted
’s
and Jane
’s
wedding rings
For compound singular nouns: the lieutenant governor
’s
staff
For compound plural nouns: my brothers-in-law
’s
jobs

Use an
apostrophe and -s
in these instances:
For words with fixed apostrophes: bachelor
’s
degree,
bachelor
’s
degrees
For the plural of letters, numbers and symbols: 3
’s
and A
’s
For words used as words: too many wherefore
’s
in legalese
For contractions:
it
’s
(
it is
),
who
’s
(
who is
),
you
’re
(
you are
),
they
’re
(
they are
)
Notice that these are not possessives.

Use
only an apostrophe
in these instances:
For plural nouns ending in -
s
:
the Joneses

van
,
my parent
s’
divorce
,
both students

papers
,
all instructors

grades
,
the Beatles

first hit
To form the possessive of some singular nouns ending in -
s
:
Jesus

teachings
,
Sophocles

plays
,
Keats

poems
OR
Keats
’s
poems

Joint Possession
When forming compound words and words that show joint possession,
only the last word is made possessive
(unless the second word is a possessive pronoun).

Mary Ann and Rebekah’s birthday party
Greg’s and my idea
Possessives with Gerunds
A possessive noun or pronoun should
be used when preceding a gerund.

my going to college
your giving a report
his needing to go home
Phillip's being on time
Use the possessive case for some inanimate objects.
today's paper
your paper's topic
the novel's theme
the poem's tone
the lightbulb's watts
Omit the possessive when describing "what type" of something.
computer monitor
sports page
state government
special news report
new jobs report
senior citizen discount
The World of Possessives
and Apostrophes

From Mamie Webb Hixon's
Real Good Grammar Too
Full transcript