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Using Apostrophes to Show Possession


Use an apostrophe to indicate that a noun is possessive.

Usually, possessive nouns indicate ownership.

Example:  The dog belongs to Bob. This is Bob's dog.

Sometimes, however, "ownership" is only loosely implied:

Example: I was fired after the long day's work.
Spanish is Rick's native language.
The tree's roots are making the sidewalk crack.

To know whether a noun is possessive, try putting it into an of phrase (it might not sound great, but it should make sense).

Examples: the dog of Bob; the work of a long day; the native language of Rick; the roots of the tree.

 

'S, s', s's?   which one should I use?  How can I know?

If the noun does not end in -s, add -'s. (This applies to both singular and plural nouns.)

Example: Roy climbed out on the driver's side.
Thank you for refunding the children’s money.

If the noun is singular and ends in -s, add -'s.

Example: Louis’s sister spent last year in India.
The grass's healthy green color is fading because of the draught.

However, if pronunciation becomes awkward because of the added -'s, you can use just the apostrophe. Either use is acceptable.

Example: Moses' experiences are recounted in the Old Testament.
The Beatles' last live performance occurred on the roof of this building.

If the noun is plural and ends in -s, add only an apostrophe.

Example: The cats’ food dishes are missing.
The books’ covers are missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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