Grammar Lesson 2 – Apostrophes/Possessive S

Knowing the rules of possessive S and using them appropriately will make you look like a professional writer.

Here are the rules:

Rule 1: Plurals
To make something plural, you usually add an s to the end of the word.
cats = more than one cat (Three cats sleep in our woodshed.)

There are irregular nouns like fish (one fish, two fish) and goose (one goose, two geese), but we won’t worry about those right now.

Rule 2: Add apostrophe S to indicate ownership

Adding apostrophe S (‘s) makes something possessive.

  • cat‘s = belonging to one cat (The cat‘s dinner was waiting in the bowl.)

Rule 3: Add S apostrophe to indicate that two or more people/things own

Adding S apostrophe means two or more people/things own something.

  • cats’ = belonging to multiple cats (All three cats’ bowls had food in them.)
  • kids’ = belonging to more than one kid (We recently donated a lot of our kids’ old toys

Here is a tricky exception to the general possession rule:

The word its is already possessive and doesn’t need an apostrophe (just like his/hers/theirs). Its means belonging to something. (The car had its tires rotated.)

The word it’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” It’s is not a possessive pronoun. (It’s been a long day.)

This is an easy one to get wrong; using it correctly shows you are a good writer.

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Technical Writing for Technicians by Will Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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