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Apostrophes show possession

Apostrophes are used to show possession; for example: the dog's bone.

Apostrophes for Possession


An apostrophe and the letter s are often used to show possession. For example, the boy's house. Examples: Take the girl's hand and place it on the cushion. (hand belonging to the girl) I had to remove Peter's label and replace it. (label belonging to Peter) Leave the mouse's dinner alone.

GENERALLY, THE RULING IS: BEFORE FOR SINGULAR AFTER FOR PLURAL To show singular possession - apostrophe before the s: the cat's dinner (one cat) the cat's dinners (one cat) To show plural possession - apostrophe after the s: the cats' dinner (more than one cat) the cats' dinners (more than one cat)

Wagner's music is better than THE RULES ARE COMPLEX, BUT NEVER PUT AN it sounds. (Mark Twain quote) APOSTROPHE IN THE WORD ITSELF A foolish woman knows a foolish man's faults. A friend's eye is a good mirror. A guest should be blind in another man's house. Goat's milk is used more widely throughout the world than cow's milk. An apostrophe that shows possession never appears inside the word itself. Dicken's novel (the word is "Dickens") The ladie's coats (the word is "ladies") the cat's dinner (when referring to "cats") (For one "cat", this would be correct.) IT'S HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POSSESSION It's is a contraction of it is or it has. This is a 100% rule. It has nothing to do with possession. The word its (without an apostrophe) is used for possession.

Plural Possession

I know its name. I saw its nametag. (its used for possession) I know it's coming soon. In each example above, the apostrophe appears before the s. (it's expands to it is) It was it's maiden voyage. This is because the hand (its is not used for possession) belongs to one girl, the label belongs to one boy (i.e., Peter), (should be: its) the dinner belongs to one See lesson It's an Its. mouse, etc. However, it is possible for the apostrophe to appear after the s. This happens when more than one person (or thing) owns the object (or objects). Examples: The horses' hay is damp. (hay belonging to the horses) (Note: more than one horse apostrophe after the s) The ladies' toilets are out of bounds. (toilets belonging to the ladies) (Note: more than one lady apostrophe after the s) The fairies' wings glistened in the moonlight.

Exception to the Rule (Plural Nouns Not Ending s)


Mistakes with apostrophes are very common. One reason for this is the number of exceptions to the rules above. For example, plural words which do not end in the letter s (e.g., men, people and children) have the apostrophe before the s when showing possession. Examples:

He is the people's poet. All television is children's television. (Richard P. Adler) Zeus does not bring all men's plans to fulfilment. (Homer (800 BC - 700 BC)) Leave the childrens' presents in the hall until they have gone to bed. [correct the example] (apostrophe should be before the s to show possession with plural words not ending in s) My watch was stolen from the men's changing room.

Exception to the Rule (Singular Nouns Ending s)


To make things even more complicated, singular words which end in s (e.g., Charles, Wales, Paris and Dickens) can end in just an apostrophe or 's when showing possession. Examples: It is Charles' birthday. It is Charles's birthday. (both correct)

Charles' or Charles's pal (both correct) I have not seen Wales' new stadium. (or Wales's )

Les' or Les's wife (both versions correct) Both Charles' birthday and Charles's birthday are grammatically correct. However, as a guideline, you should use the version which best matches how you would pronounce it. In other words, use Charles's if you pronounce it "Charlesiz", but use Charles' if you pronounce it "Charles". More examples: Dr Evans' report (for those who pronounce it "Dr Evans report") Dr Evans's report (for those who pronounce it "Dr Evansiz report") Miss Williams' victory (for those who pronounce it "Miss Williams victory") Miss Williams's victory (for those who pronounce it "Miss Williamsiz victory") IT Solutions' conference (for those who pronounce it "IT Solutions conference") (where "IT Solutions" is considered as singular) IT Solutions's conference

(for those who pronounce it "IT Solutionsiz conference")

Exception to the Rule (Compound Nouns)


Here is another quirk. Some compound nouns (e.g., sister-inlaw) do not form their plurals by adding s to the end. The s is appended to the principal word (i.e., the plural is sisters-inlaw). With a noun like this, the possessive form is created by adding 's to the end, regardless of whether it is singular or plural. Singular Plural sister-in-law's sisters-inpond law's husbands colonel-incolonels-inchief's arrival chief's meeting maid of maids of honour's honour's bouquet dresses

Apostrophes with Joint Ownership


Finally, joint ownership is shown by making the last word in the series possessive; whereas, individual ownership is shown by making both (or all) parts possessive. Example: Andrew and Jacob's factory (joint ownership) (note: only the last part is possessive) Andrew's and Jacob's factories (individual ownership)

(note: both parts are possessive) (Without context, it will be assumed that Andrew has one factory and Jacob has one factory. Another construction is required if this is not the case: "Andrew's factories and Jacob's factories" is one option.) India and Pakistan's problems (common to both) India's and Pakistan's problems (separate problems) See also: