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Apostrophes with Possessive Nouns

Add an apostrophe plus s to singular nouns to show possession. Add only an apostrophe to plurals ending in s. Consider the following examples:

Singular -----> Possessive -----> Plural Possessive
friend----> friend’s-----> friends’
boy -----> boy’s -----> boys’

Add an apostrophe plus s to plurals that do not end in s. Consider the following examples:

Singular -----> Possessive -----> Plural Possessive
man-----> man’s-----> men’s [not mens’]
woman -----> woman’s -----> women’s [not womens’]

Do not use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns, but do use an apostrophe with contractions. Consider the following examples:

Possessive -----> Contraction
hers -----> she’s (she is)
his -----> he’s (he is)
its -----> it’s (it is)
whose -----> who’s (who is)
your -----> you’re (you are)
their -----> they’re (they are)

When a singular noun ends in s, use an apostrophe plus s or just an apostrophe. The modern tendency, however, is to use an apostrophe only with singular words that end in s. Consider the following examples:

Singular -----> Possessive
James -----> James’ or James’s
Francis -----> Francis’ or Francis’s
Jonas -----> Jonas’ or Jonas’s

Use an apostrophe plus s at the end of a compound or hyphenated word to show possession. Consider the following examples:

bride-to-be’s dress
father-in-law’s advice

When two nouns share possession, show ownership after the second noun. Consider these examples:

Jack and Jill’s pail went rolling down the hill.
The boys and girls’ teacher received an award.

When ownership is separate, show ownership for each noun. Consider these examples:

Annie’s and Yvonne’s opinions are radically different.
Peg’s and Al’s jobs are in similar fields.

To show ownership for living things, use apostrophes. To show ownership for non-living things, use the word of. Consider these examples:

the spider’s web
the dog’s bone
the frailty of the web (not the web’s frailty)
the weight of the bone (not the bone’s weight)

Periods of time and organizations can be possessive. Consider these examples:

today’s fashions
the university’s rules

Indefinite pronouns ending in -body or -one may form a possessive with an apostrophe plus s or with the word of. Consider these examples:

anybody’s idea --> idea of anybody
everyone’s dream --> dream of everyone

The following indefinite pronouns do not use apostrophes. These words always use the word of to show possession. Consider these examples:

all -----> the opinion of all
any -----> the sight of any
each -----> the price of each
few -----> the judgment of few
most ----> the dream of most
none -----> the choice of none
some -----> the expectation of some


Quick Check  

Which sentence is correct?

Unfortunately, Tanya and Alexa’s passports have expired, and their not going to be able to join us.
Shane and Kirsten’s cross-country trip was wonderful, but spending a month in an RV with your in-laws is not everyone’s idea of a dream vacation.

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