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Apostrophes with Words Ending in s

While normal people wonder about apostrophes in general, believe it or not, word nerds have heated arguments over whether to use an additional s with singular possession.

Rule 1: Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.
Some writers and editors add ‘s to every proper noun, be it Hastings’s or Jones’s. And there are a few who add only an apostrophe to all nouns ending in s—however, this method is relatively rare, and not recommended here.
One method, common in newspapers and magazines, is to add an apostrophe plus s (-’s) to common nouns ending in s, but only a stand-alone apostrophe to proper nouns ending in s.

Examples:
the class’s hours
Mr. Jones’ golf clubs
The canvas’s size
Texas’ weather

Another widely used technique is to write the word as we would speak it. For example, since most people saying, “Mr. Hastings’ pen” would not pronounce an added s, we would write Mr. Hastings’ pen with no added s. But most people would pronounce an added s in “Jones’s,” so we’d write it as we say it: Mr. Jones’s golf clubs. This method explains the punctuation of for goodness’ sake.

Rule 2: To show plural possession of a word ending in an s or s sound, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.

Examples:
the classes’ hours
the Joneses’ car
guys’ night out
two actresses’ roles

 

Pop Quiz
Place the apostrophe (and perhaps an s) where appropriate.

1. The classes opinions were predictable according to their grade levels.
2. The boss suit was brand new.
3. The bus steering wheel was wearing out.
4. The Crosses dog bit the mailman.
5. We understand Lagos airport handled over one million passengers last year.
6. The Smiths boat sank.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. The classes’ opinions were predictable according to their grade levels.
2. The boss’s suit was brand new.
3. The bus’s steering wheel was wearing out.
4. The Crosses’ dog bit the mailman.
5. We understand Lagos’s (OR Lagos’) airport handled over one million passengers last year.
6. The Smiths’ boat sank.

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007, at 1:26 am


305 Comments

305 Responses to “Apostrophes with Words Ending in s

  1. Jane says:

    One could say “the Jones house” using “Jones” as an adjective. One could also say “I saw the Joneses yesterday” using “Joneses” as a plural. However, one cannot say “the Joneses house” without using an apostrophe. This is a plural possessive so “the Joneses’ house” is correct.

    • Joan says:

      Can you tell me if the following is correct please?

      a maths’ test

      a common/collective nouns’ recognition assessment

      Thank you

      • Apostrophes are used to show possession. Your examples do not indicate the condition of having or owning anything. In American English, the word math is short for mathematics. Therefore, write:
        a math test (American English) OR a maths test (British English)
        a common/collective nouns recognition assignment

  2. Scot says:

    I’m sorry, but Ms. Jones owns a house, hence it is Ms. Jones’ house, etc.

    “Joneses” as such states that more than one member of the Jones family is being referred to. Adding (incorrectly) an apostrophe paramount to stating “The hot sun is hot.”

    This “new” English or “incorrect English based on general, incorrect usage” is terrible. Or should we all say “He did good” just because so many English speakers use this phrase incorrectly?

    • Jason says:

      Scott, language is a set of generally accepted guidelines, not rules. So unfortunately, when usage drifts from guidelines, the language itself changes. And sometimes leaves fossilised grammarians irritated.

      That’s exactly what happened with Latin. High Latin died as a language, while vulgar Latin evolved into modern Italian. And modern technical, legal and academic language in Italy is built on a predominantly modern Latin foundation.

      English is even stranger, being build from old Saxony, Old Norman and Latin. So to say there’s a correct English independent of what is ‘widespread usage’ is a strange and incorrect thing to say.

      • Mary says:

        I take issue with the comment under ‘Rule 2′ regarding apostrophes that “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” It is preferred in some countries; it most certainly is not in others, particularly in the UK. In general, it is preferred only if the name in question is a single syllable, so Jones and Straus would take an ‘s’, but Texas and Hastings would not. It’s a simple matter of pronunciation; Hay-sting-es is a more awkward pronunciation than Hay-stings. As for Sanchez, that shouldn’t even be in the list, as it’s a ‘z’ sound, not an ‘s’.

        • Jane says:

          As stated on the Home page of my website, “This site and The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation represent American English rules.” Our rule follows Chicago Manual of Style’s rule (7.21) which states, “Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s—hence “Dylan Thomas’ poetry,” “Etta James’ singing,” and “that business’ main concern.” Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago.” This rule extends to include names and words ending in x or z.

        • Meggan says:

          The z at the end of Sanchez is indeed pronounced like an s. “SAHN-chess” would be the correct pronunciation. This is one of the prominent mistakes that English speakers make while speaking Spanish.

          If we are discussing pronunciations though, shouldn’t we also take into account that the possessive s is most often pronounced as a z? If we base what grammatical approach we are going to take on how a word is pronounced, and further base it on the mainstream pronunciations, should this not be referred to as well?

          • Jane says:

            From The Chicago Manual of Style: “The general rule extends to proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z, in both their singular and plural forms, as well as letters and numbers.” Therefore, it is not dependent on whether the end of the name is pronounced with an s, x, or z sound.

          • Mateo says:

            As a Mexican, Sanchez is MOST definitely a ‘Z’ sound and not an ‘S’. It does not rhyme with ‘chess’, but does rhyme with the first syllable in the bird ‘pheasant’, i.e. ‘fez’.

          • Jane says:

            There seem to be different opinions on this topic. You might be interested in reading this discussion. Half of the discussion is in Spanish.

            http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1495959

      • Patrick says:

        Jason, you tout your opinion about language as if it is grounded in some sort of universal truth. To claim that Scot’s adherence to formal language is “strange and incorrect” must mean that you have not been exposed to much formal education, since strict adherence to formal English is taught in virtually any high school or college class. Calling it “strange” is just silly.

        Or perhaps you are simply a linguistic hypocrite, using the very words you write to convey a message expecting the reader(s) to understand the message, while saying that the meanings of words are relative. Afterall, that is what you are proposing – linguistic realativism. If language does not have “rules” as you say, then language becomes meaningless.

        Although it is certainly acceptable for a group of people to develop their own nuances within a language, that does not render the generally accepted, formal langauge “incorrect”.

        • Caleb says:

          He is saying language is dynamic with the culture that uses it. Language has rules, but those rules changes over time as people start to break them. This doesn’t render language meaningless, it instead gives birth to new language. So hes right, language IS relative to a population’s understanding of its’ meaning. After all, words and grammar are completely arbitrary with out humans giving them meaning and context. If a group decides the word ‘Apple’ no longer means the red/green fruit grown from trees, then the meaning changes. If this weren’t the case, languages like English and Spanish wouldn’t even exist in the first place. And please, there is no need for the condescending “must mean that you have not been exposed to much formal education” comments. It reflects more poorly on you than any one.

    • Isiah gillum says:

      He should have written “. . . more than one member of the Jones family . . .”

  3. Chris says:

    I have come across one very reasonable exception to the rule for single possessive nouns. That exception states that only an apostrophe should be added to form the possessive of ancient names already ending in the “s” sound to which the addition of another “s” sound would produce a very awkward pronunciation.

    For example:

    Aristophanes’ play
    Pericles’ speech
    Moses’ staff

    Should this exception be widely accepted, or is there another solution for ancient names like these?

  4. Jane says:

    You are right about this exception, Chris. You could include Jesus in this list:
    Jesus’ teachings

    • Adam says:

      One question Jane — is this a hard and fast rule? That is, is either correct?

      Jesus’ beard
      Jesus’s beard

      • Jane says:

        There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing nouns that end in s. There is no hard and fast rule; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent. Either of your options is correct. The upcoming eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation will include this information.

  5. Jane says:

    Ok, so I get that it is grammatically correct to leave a ‘ AFTER an s in certain phrases. But why? I mean, what if I had a last name like Sussis, or Sessisses? People probably have a name like that, and what do you say then? Saying “I’m going to the Sussis’ house.” sounds like Sussisses! That’s a major mouthful, don’t you think? It’s just an opinion, but I’ve always wondered about that.

  6. Hannah says:

    It is both correct to use ‘Mrs Jones’ house’ or ‘Mrs Jones’s house’. In different countries, one is more commonly used than the other. For example, in the UK it is more common usage as ‘Mrs Jones’s house’, in Australia it is ‘Mrs Jones’ house’ but either is sometimes used and neither is incorrect.
    When there is a strong s sound to the end of a name, such as Sussis, adding the apostrophe without another s is a simpler and clearer way to go, e.g. ‘The Sussis’ house.’ Writing, ‘The Sussis’s house’ would not be incorrect, just somewhat clumsy, especially for speech. The important thing is the apostrophe to show possessive and whether or not to add another s is one of the few times you can make a choice about the rules of grammar.

  7. Jane says:

    Hannah, you’re correct that you can write “Mrs. Jones’ house” or “Mrs. Jones’s house.”
    I prefer keeping it simple by suggesting adding the apostrophe and the “s” to all singular possessive names, regardless of the letter they end in.

  8. Helen Mathur says:

    I teach my students in India the use of the apostrophe for possession by telling them to write down the name of the ‘possessor’, whether singular or plural, then add the apostrophe, and finally add an ‘s’ if the sound requires it. I find that this way they do not get confused about, for example, “children’s, princess’s, the Joneses’….”

  9. Jane says:

    Helen, I agree and also teach this method in the Apostrophe Rules section on my web site, http://www.grammarbook.com.

  10. Jane says:

    “The Smith’s” would never be correct because “The Smiths” should be plural.
    I need more of the context to help you decide between “The Smiths’” and “The Smiths.” If house is implied, you can use “The Smiths’.” Example: There will be a reception at The Smiths’ at 2:00 p.m.

  11. Melissa C. says:

    Hi! My question is wedding related. I’m working on RSVP envelopes and they’d like to use i.e. “The Smith’s” , not using the word House afterwards. Is that gramatically correct? They do not want the word “House” used after the last name.

  12. Jane says:

    Kirkland and Ellis’s

  13. Victoria says:

    Which is correct–Kirkland and Ellis’ or …and Ellis’s? It’s a law firm.

    Victoria

  14. Victoria says:

    Which is correct: Kirkland and Ellis’ or Kirkland and Ellis’s (it’s a law firm)?

    Victoria

  15. Miranda says:

    Hi,

    If I had to label a photo of 3 of my friends who are named “Chris”.. would this be labelled “My three favourite Chris’s…” or “My three favourite Chris’…” or how should I label this?!

    I know usually if it was a singular Chris, we’d use Chris’ ball or Chris’ pencil case, but I’m really confused with the fact there are multiple people with the name Chris!!

    Thanks,
    Miranda

    • Felicia says:

      Hi, Miranda. You would say “My three favo(u)rite Chrises.” Think about if you had a friend who were also named Miranda. If a second friend invited you both to dinner, she would say, “I am inviting the Mirandas over for dinner.” If your last name were “Robinson” and someone invited your family over for dinner, they would be inviting “the Robinsons.” Try not to think of the possesive at all in this case. It is a simple plural like “My favorite things” or “We ate carrots.”

  16. Jane says:

    With plurals of names, you don’t need apostrophes.
    “My three favorite Chrises”

  17. June says:

    Which is correct:

    Bob and Joe’s fight

    or

    Bob’s and Joe’s fight

  18. Jane says:

    Bob and Joe’s fight
    Since they “co-own” the fight, you need an apostrophe only before the second name.

  19. Jeff Braman says:

    Which use of the word “chapter” is correct in the following sentence:

    I have thirty-one (chapters/chapter’s) in my book.

    Thank you,

    Jeff Braman

  20. Jane says:

    chapters
    This is a plural usage, not a possessive usage.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I have another example that comes up at work frequently. Either I’m consistently getting it wrong, or others are. I work at “Something” Industries. When referring to our facilities, people have written:
    Something Industries facilities
    Something Industrie’s facilities

    I have always corrected them with:
    Something Industries’ facilities

    Please tell me if I am right or wrong. I may be wrong, but if I am, I am not clear on the reasoning. I know you must add the apostrophe to show possession; however, since the word ends in an “s” and “Industries’s” sounds absurd, the only logical solution seems to be the one I suggested.

    I am an executive level assistant in my dept. Many of the people who work with me have BS degrees in health physics or related areas. I don’t think they think I know a thing! As it turns out, I have a degree in Communications (with a concentration in PR). Many of my professors tried to convince me to switch to a major in English, but I really was interested in pursuing a communications profession and felt very confident about my spelling and grammar knowledge. I also graduated summa cum laude, which most people don’t know. It’s just interesting how people assume that, because I am not a manager, I know less about everything than them. Hey, I know stuff!

    They do the technical portion of their proposals and pass them to me. I organize them and make them sparkle. They do the content; I do the magic. :)

    Elizabeth Hollman

    • Earl says:

      Re the sentence toward the end of your comment: “It’s just interesting how people assume that, because I am not a manager, I know less about everything than them. Hey, I know stuff!”

      -I agree with Jane that, in the earlier matter of the use of the apostrophe, YOU are right and THEY are wrong. However, re the above-quoted sentence, Jane failed to point out to you that the use of the objective pronoun, “them” is incorrect. That sentence should read: “people assume … I know less about everything than THEY”. Though unexpressed, the intended meaning is that you know less than THEY KNOW. A classic example would be: “John is smarter than I(…”AM SMART” would be the understood, but unexpressed, completion of that thought). By contrast, “John is smarter than ME” would be wrong … unless this rule is now considered antiquated and I’m in danger of being a “fossilized grammarian” …

      Jane, what say you?

      • Jane says:

        When answering the grammar questions from our readers we generally focus our responses on their specific grammar questions. We do not always point out all of the grammatical errors in their comments so as not to discourage people from writing to us.

        • Edeltraud says:

          I just discovered this blog and enjoyed the discussion on possessive forms. However, I was surprised to see Jane use two superfluous prepositions and at the end of a sentence at that.
          “August 20, 2012 at 11:54 am Jane says: When answering the grammar questions from our readers we generally focus our responses on the subjects being asked about. We do not always point out all of the grammatical errors in their comments so as not to discourage people from writing in.”
          Is that how you do it where you are at? (Joke.)

          • Jane says:

            You have a good point. In retrospect, the first sentence seems a bit awkward and could be better written as “When responding to our readers, we generally focus on their specific grammar questions.” Regarding the second sentence, leaving off “in” could possibly be interpreted by a picky reader as meaning people could be discouraged from writing anything to anyone at all. Therefore, that sentence could be reworded at the end as “We do not always point out all of the grammatical errors in their comments so as not to discourage people from writing to us.” I will make these changes to the August 20, 2012 entry.

  22. Jane says:

    Elizabeth, you’re right; they’re wrong. Doesn’t it feel good to be validated?
    For proof, show them Rule 4 of this page: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

  23. Ashley says:

    I am giving a door knocker as a gift to a recently married couple… their name is Theos. What is the proper use of plural/possessive? I would think their name would be plural because there are two of them and possessive as it is their house… however I’m struggling with the ending in s?!? And I think a door knoker that reads “The Theoses’” is a bit buch and to me appears to change their last name… Please HELP! Thank you!!!

  24. Jane says:

    “The Theoses” is correct. If you don’t like the looks of this, you could use “The Theos Family.” No apostrophe is used because it is not a possessive unless you write “The Theoses’ House.” I hope this helps.

  25. Randy says:

    My son has an “ancient” name: Atticus. Should his possession be Atticus’s or Atticus’ (see above comment: Jane 2/4)?

  26. Jane says:

    Either is correct. However, I would use Atticus’s for the possessive because you are not referring to the ancient Atticus.

  27. Lauren says:

    Would it be wrong to write Mrs. Evans’ classroom? Every grammar book I have including MLA materials has contradictory explanations! So frustrating!

  28. Jane says:

    It is better to write Evans’s to let people know that the original name was Evans. This is not mandatory, however.

  29. Andy says:

    I think the following example comes down to sounding it out:

    Possessive of “Smith and Williams” (law firm)?

    I know that it could either be Williams’s or Williams’. From what you’ve written and what’s been said in the comments, however, the latter is incorrect as it’s not an ancient name. I think this is a rare exception to this rule. This name when possessive and sounded out is NOT the same as “Kirkland and Ellis’s.”

    Do you agree that “Smith and Williams’” is correct? And is there a rule succinctly explaining why?

  30. Jane says:

    I agree that Smith and Williams’ is considered acceptable. However, because the name ends in an “s,” one could assume that Williams’ means that the name was William, not Williams. To avoid confusion, I recommend using the apostrophe “s” on all names ending in “s.” I don’t hear any difference between Ellis’s and Williams’s.
    See http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

    • J.H. says:

      Then what about plurals that don’t end with the letter “S”? If a singular like “Gus” requires another “S” after the apostrophe, then plurals like “men” “fungi” just require an apostrophe. e.g., “the Men’ room”, “the fungi’ characteristics”.

      • Jane says:

        Rule 4 of Apostrophes is “To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.” The third example under this rule using the word children demonstrates how to form the plural possessive of an irregular noun that has a plural form that does not involve adding an s. In this case, the plural of the singular noun child is children. Then use the apostrophe and add an s to form children’s. Thus, the Men’s room, the fungi’s characteristics.

  31. Jasmine says:

    I’m so glad I found this post and this website! I am getting a
    married in January and will be taking on my husband’s last name. I am a stickler for good grammar so I need to know how to use
    my new name. I read the whole post and all the comments, but I still just want to double check that I’m right. My new last name will be Myers. Will the plural be Myerses? And the possessive plural is Myerses’ ? And singular plural is Myers’s?

    I’m only double checking because it seemed like some things I read were differentiating between names ending in an “s” sound and a “z” sound.

    Thank you so much.
    Jasmine

  32. sara says:

    What about a company name… Waves?
    Waves’ television programs
    Waves’s television programs
    I think the first one seems better, but which would use the best grammar?
    Thank you!

    • Jane says:

      If you write “Wave’s television programs,” you are implying that the name is “Wave” rather than “Waves.” Follow the same rule that you would for forming the possessive of common nouns ending in “s.” Therefore, “Waves’s television programs” is correct.

  33. Bob Fraley says:

    Hi Jane,

    My question concerns acronyms that end in “s.” I work for a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES, pronounced BO-seas) and I write technical bids for our schools. I am currently writing one on behalf of two BOCES and am concerned about the proper use of the apostrophe in plural form here. To say “Orange and Sullivan BOCES’s networks” is very clumsy, especially since no one pronounces it that way, regardless of possesion.

    So, which is correct; BOCES’, BOCES’s, or BOCESes’.

    Thank you!

    Bob

    • Jane says:

      Bob, this is tricky because the plural of Board of Cooperative Educational Services is actually Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. Therefore, it would be better if you could write “Orange and Sullivan Boards’ networks.” The other tricky aspect is that BOCES is really being used as an adjective here rather than as a possessive noun. Therefore, you could also write, “Orange and Sullivan BOCES networks.” Either of these two choices would be much better than any of the options you intuitively dislike.

  34. Judi says:

    If i have a sentance that reads “At least annually, the partners review the firms human resources policies….) Would firms be as it is, or would it be firm’s, or firms’. Probably easy for most, but very confusing to me.

    Thanks.

  35. Judi says:

    Oh, thank you so much, I really appreciate the quick reply.

  36. Adriane says:

    I’ve decided to name my son Brooks but I’m still having a hard time figuring out what is correct.
    Brooks’ looks right to me.
    Brookses just looks very odd and wasn’t how I was taught..
    Brookses’ still doesn’t feel right.
    Then there’s Brooks’s….
    With the examples in previous comments, there are a couple options and seems like all are correct but example 1 is the only one that feels right to me.
    Any suggestions?
    Help! :)

    • Jane says:

      Brooks looks right to/at me.
      Brooks looks very odd.
      Brooks still doesn’t feel right.
      Then there’s Brooks…

      Don’t use apostrophes for your son’s name or it will seem as though the name is Brook, not Brooks.

      • Lindsey says:

        I named my son Brooks too. I always use Brooks’s but most everyone else writes Brooks’ so I have no idea which is the correct way. Help!

        • Jane says:

          As I mention in my Rule 2 of the Apostrophes section, using the apostrophe and another s to show singular possession of a name ending in s is preferred. I am more in agreement with The Chicago Manual of Style which states this as a rule over The AP Stylebook which prefers adding only the apostrophe.

  37. Julie says:

    I too am getting married. My new name will be Ables. So pleural will be Ableses? Singular possessive will be Ables’s and pleural possessive Ableses’?
    Thanks

    • Jane says:

      Plural of Ables is Ableses. Singular possessive is Ables’s. Plural possessive is Ableses’. Note: “pleural” should be “plural.”
      Examples: Mrs. Ables’s dog, The Ableses’ house, I went to the Ableses for dinner last night.
      Congratulations on your marriage!

      • Felicia says:

        Hi, Jane. Shouldn’t it be “I went to the Ableses’ for dinner last night”? The word “house” is exluded but implied.

        • Jane says:

          That could also be an acceptable option. It would be preferable to rewrite the sentence to remove any doubt: “I went to the Ableses’ house for dinner last night” or “I joined the Ableses for dinner at their home last night.”

  38. mariana says:

    I’d love to know the plural of ‘haus’. I realise this is not an english word, but i’m using it as a product name. would the plural be haus’ ? or hauses?

    I’ve written it as haus’ for months [with the apostrophe after the s, simply because it looks better] and then someone else wrote it as hauses.

    So confusing! I’d love to know which is correct or if, in fact, both are acceptable.

    Thank you in advance.

  39. Vikas says:

    My friend’s last name is Jones. When i write about his house where “Jones” would mean the entire family, which one is correct?

    The Jones’ House or The Joneses’ House.

    I am a bit confused because i have seen both these forms used a lot and not sure whether both are accepted as correct.

    • Jane says:

      the Joneses’ house
      From GrammarBook.com Apostrophes Rule 4
      To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.
      Examples:
      two boys’ hats
      two women’s hats
      two actresses’ hats
      two children’s hats
      the Changs’ house
      the Joneses’ golf clubs

  40. Anne says:

    Where would the apostrophe go in this instance? — Invest in Kids board chair

    Invest in Kids is the name of an organization. I think it should be Invest in Kids’ but I keep going back and forth! Any help would be appreicated

  41. Susan Grise says:

    What is the correct punctuation for a yearbook heading that says:
    “Grade Tens”.

  42. sivanvita says:

    if it was not like copy print and was like a game type you guys know what i mean like a quiz it would have been better.

  43. Sierrah says:

    What is the singular possessive of the following words? Please help me.
    Eskimo, clothes, and scissors.
    What is the Plural for of the words: salmon and louse.
    Also what is the plural possessive of the words: Pliers, passerby, hero, louse, and ox.

    I have been trying to figure out these words for about a week, so please help me.

    • Jane says:

      Singular possessives:
      eskimo’s
      Clothes and scissors have no singular form. This type of word is called a “plurale tantum,” which is Latin for “plural only.” Thus the possessive forms would be clothes’ and scissors’.

      Plurals:
      salmon
      lice

      Plural Possessive:
      pliers’
      passersby’s
      heroes’
      lice’s
      oxen’s

  44. Changed Man says:

    My wife and I had quite a discussion about this. I was utterly convinced that anytime a word ends in “s”, the possessive should have an apostrophe, sans the extra “-s”.

    From the discussion, I can see it rightly, now…

    If I were talking about something belonging to multiple persons named “William”:
    EX – It’s a funny thing, most Williams’ personalities are very similar.
    [there is NO extra "-s" in the possessive because the singular is William, which is plural in the sentence]

    But, if I were talking about something belonging to a single person with the name Williams:
    EX – Mr. Williams’s flowers are the best in the neighborhood.
    [there is an extra "-s" in the possessive because the singular is Williams, which is NOT plural in the sentence]

    And, if I were talking about a group of persons with the name Williams:
    EX – Those Williamses are a very caring bunch; we should invite them over.
    [the plural of Williams adds an "-es" to the end]

    Lastly, if I were talking about something belonging to a group of persons with the name Williams:
    EX – The Williamses’ two dogs are so spoiled, they have their own personal masseur and masseuse.
    [there is NO extra "-s" in the possessive because the singular is Williams, which is plural in the sentence]

    Alas, I will have to concede that my wife was more correct than I. Though, I do so without chagrin.

    Thanks to everyone for clarifying!

  45. Heidi says:

    So, Ross (as in a family) would be:

    Plural: Rosses
    Plural Possessive: Rosses’

    But for one of the family, it would be Ross’s?

  46. Ann Morin says:

    I was surprised to read in the March 2011 Newsweek magazine several words ending in s had the ‘s ending. One word was on the cover and I thought that someone had made a major mistake. I can’t remember ever seeing or reading that to be correct. I am graduated nearly 47 years ago and have never known that to be correct spelling. That is why I am now on this site checking the rules. Is this a “new” rule as in the past decade or so? I work in an office and over the years have read a great many reports but never s’s used. I can’t wait until next week’s staff meeting.

    • Jane says:

      Since you did not give any specific examples, I cannot comment on the words that you thought were misspelled. If the word ended in an s and it was a singular possessive, then the ‘s would be correct. I do not believe this to be a new rule.

    • Felicia says:

      Hi, Ann. I think this is a new rule in the past decade. I went to elementary school 1997-2003 (in America, so this only applies for sure to American English), and I was taught NEVER to put an “s” after the apostrophe when making a single noun that ends in “s” possessive.

      However, I just did some research, and it seems like “‘s” after any singular noun no matter the ending is now the encouraged rule. I’m glad it’s simplified!

  47. Melissa says:

    I am having shirts made for my husband & myself. They are going to say Lucus’ Mom & Lucus’ Dad. Is This correct? Should it be Lucus’s instead?

    • Jane says:

      It should say “Lucus’s Mom & Lucus’s Dad.”

      • Irma says:

        The kids name is Santos. Should the shirt say:
        Santos’ mom or Santos’s mom? Please help!

        • Jane says:

          The rule in our Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z blog (consistent with The Chicago Manual of Style) states, “To show singular possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, use the apostrophe and another s.” Therefore, write Santos’s mom.

  48. Sarah says:

    Could someone give me some guidance for my wedding invites? My invite designer wrote “Sarah and Chris’ wedding” on our response cards. Is this correct beacuse together we are plural? My grammar instincts are telling me it should be Sarah and Chris’s. Maybe I should just change it to Chris and Sarah’s :). Thank you in advance for any advice!

    • Jane says:

      If two people possess the same item, an apostrophe and s is used. Since the wedding belongs to both of you, you are correct. It should read “Sarah and Chris’s wedding.”

  49. Art says:

    Hi,

    What would be the correct grammar if I were referring to a menu item at T.G.I. Friday’s. Would I write T.G.I. Friday’s’ chicken tenders or T.G.I. Fridays’s chicken tenders or something completely different? Thank you.

    • Jane says:

      T.G.I. Friday’s chicken tenders should be fine, especially for informal writing. Some may argue that T.G.I. Friday’s's chicken tenders should be technically correct but it certainly looks odd. The safest route would be to rearrange the phrase as The chicken tenders at T.G.I. Friday’s.

  50. McNally says:

    Many thanks to Jane for the help and answers – this site is great.

    Here’s my sentence (and my predicament):

    “Please provide the vehicle identification numbers of the department’s Trans Ams and LeMans.”

    Would Trans Am get an apostrophe? Trans Am’s
    What about LeMans (which is the vehicle name)? I think LeMans’.

    Thank you!

    • Jane says:

      Please provide the vehicle identification numbers of the department’s Trans Ams and LeManses. Since the cars are simple plurals, not possessives, there is no need for apostrophes.

  51. David says:

    I was writing an essay on a test and ended up in a weird apostrophe situation.

    What do I do here:

    The dog colored the woman(‘s?), Mary(‘s?), carpet a deep yellow.

    My first inclination was to put the apostrophe s on Mary, thats how we say it, but then I tried to read the sentence without “Mary’s” in it and it didn’t make sense. Woman’s, Mary’s seems awkward, and woman’s, Mary seems off too.

    Later, I tried to look at the apostrophe s problem from a different perspective altogether and found a similar problem:

    The dog(‘s?), Fido(‘s), running quickly, hoping to escape.

    Here I was trying to use the apostrophe s as a contraction for “dog is.” I know that if it we weren’t using the contraction it would be “The dog, Fido, is running quickly, hoping to escape.” but, I don’t see how to make the transition.

    Oh! Also, in this sentence what is the grammatical term for “Mary” and “Fido”? A clarifying clause?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    • Jane says:

      In general, essay tests call for a formal writing style. Your sentences could easily be reworded as:
      The dog colored Mary’s carpet a deep yellow. (Leave out the woman’s; it’s unnecessary.)
      The dog Fido is running quickly, hoping to escape.
      or
      Fido’s running quickly, hoping to escape.

      In these cases, Mary’s is an adjective and in the second sentence Fido is the subject.

  52. Sandy says:

    Help! I have a problem one teacher is saying the name should be
    Davis’s class the other is Lutins’ Class should they be different in the same publication? Both names are plural and I think they are both right!
    the names are Davis and Lutins. Please help this is for the yearbook!!

    • Jane says:

      You say that the names are Davis and Lutins, however, you say the names are plural. Plural means more than one. Are you saying that there are two or more persons with the same name? I am guessing not, so “Davis’s class” and “Lutins’s class” would be the correct usage.

  53. DM says:

    Could the word Thanks ever be used as plural possessive such as Thanks’?

  54. laurie says:

    I am monogramming something for a family last name is Anderson. Would it be The Anderson’s or The Andersons?

  55. Donna says:

    My daughter is getting married and is working on her invitations and address labels. Her last name will be Tannis. According to all of your examples and explanations….are the following correct for each circumstance? (I’m a little surprised at some of the examples above…I taught elementary school for 29 years and taught the rule that if the word already ended in an s…just add the apostrophe.)

    singular- Tannis – My last name is Tannis.
    singular possessive- Tannis’s – Joe Tannis’s shoes are black.
    plural- Tannises- The Tannises are coming to our house.
    plural possessive: Tannises’- The Tannises’ dogs are mean.

    How would an address label read? The Tannises ? The Tannis’ (implying house)

    • Jane says:

      You are correct:

      Singular is Tannis
      Singular possessive is Tannis’s
      Plural is Tannises
      Plural possessive is Tannises’

      The address label could read “The Tannises” or “The Tannis Family.”
      Regarding the practice of just adding an appostrophe to a word already ending in s, “Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago Manual of Style.”

  56. Jenn says:

    I work in the office of preschool, and Nicholas has become a very popular student name. A teacher requested that I make a label “Nicholas’ Treasured Memories” after I had given her “Nicholas’s Treasured Memories.” Although I was frustrated by the request, I gave in. Should I have stuck to my grammar or was she correct in requesting the change? Thank you!

    • Jane says:

      You certainly were placed in a difficult position. Some writers and publishers prefer the system of omitting the possessive ‘s on all words and names ending in s, however, such usage does disregard the pronunciation of the word or name as well as the practice recommended by most authoritative sources including The Chicago Manual of Style. Maybe you could gently direct the teacher’s attention to my website and to the Note in Rule 2 in Apostrophes which says:
      NOTE: Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.

  57. margaret says:

    I have often seen words such as Missions Reception used as
    Mission’s Reception, Missions’ Reception and Missions Reception.

    Which is correct. This is for a missions banquet.

    Pastors’ book club, or can I say Pastors book club, without the ‘ as the end?

    • Jane says:

      Use of an apostrophe indicates possession. The ‘s or s’ would indicate ownership of the reception or book club by either one (‘s) or more than one (s’) mission or pastor, respectively. Using the reasoning presented in the blog entitled “Confusing Possessives,” your guess is as good as anyone’s as to whether an apostrophe should be used or not, especially with Missions Reception. In the case of the book club, if it clearly refers to a club at one church with one pastor, I would opt for “Pastor’s book club” or even more specifically, “Pastor John’s book club.”

  58. Alexis says:

    I’m getting married in September and I’m putting together a guestbook. My new last name will be Balderrama. On the spine I’d like to write “The Balderramas” Is that correct? My fiancé insists it should be “The Balderrama’s” I know it’s his last name, but I’m thinking I’m in the right here :)

    • Jane says:

      Yes, you are correct unless you were to write “The Balderramas’ Guest Book.” Then you would need an appostrophe to indicate possession. If you are just meaning this book is for or about more than one person named Balderrama, it would be “The Balderramas.”

  59. Olivia says:

    I am a teacher….and my last name is Gass so would i say “Miss Gass’s Classroom” or is it correct to say “Miss Gass’ Classroom” ?

    • Jane says:

      According to the note under Rule 2, “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, “Miss Gass’s classroom” would be the preferred spelling.

  60. Lucy says:

    If i am trying to say Mikes children yell, would i put Mike’s or Mikes children yell.

  61. Taylor says:

    This is a much debated rule amongst family and friends. Glad for this to be cleared up. It’s also nice to see even professional grammarians make mistakes, (Quiz Question 8: “…get up at down”) or would that be in the vocabulists’ or lexicographers’ realm?

  62. monique says:

    I am writing out thank you cards for my daughter and I want to use the word princess instead of daughter. I am not sure if I should add an ‘s or just the ‘

    ex: Thank you for joining us in celebrating our princess’s 1st birthday

    thank you in advanced

    • Jane says:

      To show singular possession for a word ending in an s or s sound, use the apostrophe and another s.
      “Thank you for joining us in celebrating our princess’s first birthday.”

  63. Taylor says:

    I see you deleted my comment, but corrected your error. Sad that you deleted my comment, but good that you corrected my error. Thank goodness for “print screen.”

    • Jane says:

      Your comment was not deleted. It just had not been approved yet. Every comment that appears on our blog has to go through an approval process which can take several days. It also has to be answered before it can appear on the blog. The typo was fixed.

  64. maria be benaim says:

    how about writing -’s worlds biggest..-. I’m unable to find rules how to apply apostrophes in front of a noun

    • Jane says:

      Rule 2 in the “Apostrophes” section says, “Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession.”
      Since “world’s biggest” is singular possessive, you need to use ‘s regardless of which noun follows it.

  65. Amanda says:

    I am having a picture frame engraved for a wedding gift. They are asking for the plural of their last name. Their last name is Arps. Would the plural be “The Arpses”? There will be nothing written but “The Arpses”.

  66. Chris says:

    Do you know when the single possessive on nouns ending in ‘s’ changed from ‘s to s’s? I know that in the Chicago Style Manual the change was accepted in the 15th edition (2003) and finalized in the 16th edition (2010). Turabian had the change in the 2007 7th edition (and I believe in the 6th as well).The Gregg Reference Manual shows this change as finalized (no other method may be used) in 2003.

    So, when did it begin?

    • Jane says:

      We may not be able to pinpoint exactly when this shift began. The rules for using apostrophes are continuously evolving. Each style manual seems to have different rules and some still do not recommend this change. For example, AP Stylebook says, “Singular proper names ending in s: Use only an apostrophe.” Since there is disagreement between the different style guides, this is probably one of the more flexible “rules.” In my opinion, Chicago Manual of Style has the best explanation in commenting on using only an apostrophe: “Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago Manual of Style.”

  67. Laura says:

    What about showing possession when referring to a song written by The Beatles?

    I know that one may write “Grieg’s Nocture in C” or “Schumann’s Traumerei” but would it be correct to write “The Beatles’s Eleanor Rigby”? Or “The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby”?

    Thanks! :)

  68. Debra says:

    I am at odds with some over the proper use of an apostrophe in this instance. I have designed a brochure and I believe it should read:

    Heritage Baptist Church Presents Our 9th One Day Ladies Seminar

    someone else believes it should read

    Heritage Baptist Church Presents Our 9th One Day Ladies’ Seminar

    I think the apostrophe makes it appear that the Ladies own the seminar, while my version has “ladies” being the adjective. What do you think?

    • Jane says:

      It appears that either one would be acceptable. For example, there is the Ladies Professional Golf Association but note the apostrophe in Ladies’ Home Journal. AP Stylebook says, “Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.”

      On the other hand, Chicago Manual of Style says, “The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively–to modify another noun–is sometimes fuzzy, especially in the plural. Although terms such as employees’ cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) that do not use one or where there is clearly no possessive meaning:
      children’s rights, farmers’ market, women’s soccer team, boys’ clubs, taxpayers’ associations (or taxpayer associations), consumers’ group (or consumer group), but Publishers Weekly, Diners Club.”

      You could argue that “ladies” is a descripitive word, or that it is a seminar for ladies, therefore providing a case for either one. Also, since one-day is a phrasal adjective (compound modifier) describing the seminar, I would recommend use of a hyphen.

  69. Robby says:

    What about a noun ending in s, with the same singular and plural form.

    For example the flower, Cosmos. I think the singular and plural are the same.

    Singular: This Cosmos’s petals are brightly colored.
    Plural: Cosmos’ petals are usually brightly colored.

    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      The singular is cosmos and the plural can be either cosmos or cosmoses.
      According to Rule 1 in this “Apostrophes with Words Ending in s” blog, “To show singular possession for a word ending in an s or s sound, use the apostrophe and another s.” Therefore, the singular possessive would be cosmos’s.

      To show plural possession of a word ending in an s or s sound, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe. The correct plural possessive would be cosmos’ or cosmoses’.

      Thus, you were right!

  70. Horns says:

    Which is correct:

    it has its moments

    it has it’s moments

    my train of logic says it’s. not as in it is, but to show ownership of the moments. thanks in advace

    • Jane says:

      For this special word, it’s only means it is and ownership or possession is expressed by its without the apostrophe! Therefore, “it has its moments.”

  71. Deb says:

    I don’t understand why people use apostrophe s for pluralizing. Even when I type “thank yous” as a plural spell-check wants it to be “thank-you’s”. I see this a lot and don’t know if it is wrong or fine. Examples: CD’s, numbers such as 4′s, etc. There are no letters missing and it’s not possessive.

    • Jane says:

      You are correct: this is a very common error. As Rule 11 in our “Apostrophes” section of the Blue Book and website states, “The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.” The exception is when the meaning would be unclear otherwise such as with A’s or 0′s (you don’t mean the words As or Os). Similarly, there would be no confusion leaving out the apostrophe with thank you. In more formal writing you could avoid this problem by writing out thank-you cards or thank-you notes.

  72. Mary says:

    This one keeps coming up at work and we cannot figure out which to use:

    He is a patient of Dr. Smith or He is a patient of Dr. Smith’s ?

    I have found where they say you should rearrange the sentence so it is not an “of” sentence, but if we were to leave it as is, which would be the correct?

    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      You are correct that it is best to limit the number of prepositional phrases, so the best choice would be Dr Smith’s patient. If you leave the sentence as is, a patient of Dr. Smith is correct.

  73. Matt says:

    How do you write the abbreviation of photograph’s? Is it photos’ or photo’s or photos?

    • Jane says:

      The abbreviation of the plural word photographs is photos.
      Example: He takes nice wedding photos.
      Since you asked about photgraph’s with an appostrophe (the singular possessive form), the abbreviation of that word is photo’s.
      Example: That photo’s corner is bent.

  74. Allister says:

    Hi Jane! What about when the owner comes at the end of the sentence?
    Is it:

    The football was Allister’s. The parrot was Nicola’s.

    Or

    The football was Allisters. The parrot was Nicolas.

    “It was decided that the victory – after a particularly long and arduous football match – was Manchester United’s.”

    Am I right in using an apostrophe here?

    • Jane says:

      If the owner comes at the end of the sentence you still need the possessive form which uses an apostrophe.
      The football was Allister’s.
      The parrot was Nicola’s. (“The parrot was Nicolas” would mean that the name of the parrot was Nicolas!)

      It was decided that the victory — after a particularly long and arduous football match — was Manchester United’s.

  75. Laura says:

    I think this has always had a flexible rule for words ending in “s”, but students (at least in my university years in the late 80′s to mid-90′s) and grammar books of the time advised to be consistent thoughout one’s work.

    I think the leaning back then was NOT to use an s-apostrophe-s (and just go with the lone apostrophe for a singular noun ending in s), where as now, the leaning IS to use the extra s after the apostrophe.

    I’ve always loved grammar and when I married a man in 1994 and changed my last name to one that ended in S, I researched it thoroughly so I would know how to handle the situation when it arose.

    Back then, I decided to go with:
    singular Willis
    plural Willises
    singular possessive Willis’
    plural possessive Willises’

    After seeing s’s used in so many publications (and it still makes me cringe)– I thought it was time to review what is accepted– and learned that while the rule is STILL a bit foggy, I would probably now be considered MORE correct if I went with the singular possessive of Willis’s.

    I do agree, however, with one of the earliest posters that stated that when enough people start to forget grammar rules, the rules change to accomodate them. (“dumbing down” language)– The perfect example is “ain’t”. I grew up being told by teachers that “Ain’t ain’t a word because it ain’t in the dictionary”– and now, if you pick up a dictionary, you will find that it is!

    (I have not looked to see if such words as “lite” for light or “donut” for doughnut have been included yet, but if they haven’t been, it is probably just a matter of time! Who knows what texting will do to our “proper and accepted” rules!)

    • Jane says:

      Yes, the dumbing down, er, I mean the evolution of the English language continues. “Lite” and “donut” are both recognized in the dictionary as variants of “light” and “doughnut.” Some of the texting phrases (such as LOL) are listed, but they are considered abbreviations.

  76. Mark says:

    Hi,
    Question for you: We want to have a sign made that has says:

    Evans’s Wine Bar…..
    is that the correct way to spell and punctuate?
    or is it Evanses’ Wine Bar……
    Please help!!
    thanks.
    Mark

    • Jane says:

      The rules in the “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z” section of our blog state, “To show the plural of a name that ends in s, ch, or z, add es. To show plural possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.”
      The Evanses’ Wine Bar is correct.

  77. Flora Aimbiré Weffort Santos says:

    I have still some doubts. I learned English in England and I remember being taught that words that end with “s” in possessive situations you just add the apostrophe with no “s”.

    Jones’ cat
    Holmes’ friend
    My brothers’ things (as in two brothers)

    I teach American English at a school, and I came across an american version of a Sherlock Holmes novel and I read something like Sherlock Holmes’s and now I am utterly confused! Is there any chance you can help me figure this out!?

    • Jane says:

      The rules for using apostrophes are continuously evolving. In America, each style manual seems to have different rules. Since there is disagreement between the different style guides, this is probably one of the more flexible “rules.” In my opinion, Chicago Manual of Style has the best explanation in commenting on using only an apostrophe: “Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago Manual of Style.” In the case of plural possessives, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe:
      Bill Jones’s cat (or, in the case of the Jones family, the Joneses’ cat)
      Sherlock Holmes’s friend (or, in the case of the Holmes family, the Holmeses’ friend)
      my brothers’ things (two brothers)

  78. Grammar Book Reader says:

    Is it Sipylus’s main site or Sipylus’ main site?
    Trying to update HTML meta tag with the info.

    • Jane says:

      The first rule in this “Apostrophes with Words Ending in s” blog states, “To show singular possession for a word ending in an s or s sound, use the apostrophe and another s.” Therefore, Sipylus’s main site is correct.

  79. April says:

    Hi there,
    I am doing a gender reveal invitation. It is to find out the gender of baby Fitzsimmons. Do I write it as:

    Baby Fitzsimmons’s Gender Reveal

    Or

    Baby Fitzsimmons Gender Reveal

  80. Bill says:

    How about the name ‘Edwards’?

    Mr. Edwards’ Room?

    or

    Mr. Edwards’s Room?

    • Jane says:

      The note under Rule 2 of our “Apostrophes” section states, “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, “Mr. Edwards’s Room” is preferred.

  81. Bill says:

    And are these sentences both correct:

    The coach was the pupils’.

    The coach was owned by the pupils’.

    • Jane says:

      The first sentence is correct. The second sentence does not need an apostrophe since it is not the possessive form of pupils. While The coach was owned by the pupils is grammatically correct, this is an unusual sentence in that pupils do not normally own a coach, whether a human being or a mode of transportation!

  82. Reza says:

    how can we use Apostrophe s with a name like “Elizabeth II”? do we add s to Elizabeth of to II?

    • Jane says:

      Since we would say, “Queen Elizabeth the Second’s coronation was the first to be televised,” it would be written “Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was the first to be televised.”

  83. Grates says:

    Here’s an odd one for you. My name ends in an S. When people using it want to indicate possession, such as saying

    “Those are Grates (‘s/s’ ?) shoes, where should the apostrophe be placed, and should there be an extra S or not?

    • Jane says:

      You may follow Rule 2 of the “Apostrophes” section or the rule in our blog “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z” which says, “To show singular possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, use the apostrophe and another s.” Therefore, “Those are Grates’s shoes” is correct.

  84. Ian says:

    Hi Jane,

    Which is correct: Michael Jones’ house or Michael Jones’s house.

    Many thanks,

    Ian

    • Jane says:

      The note under Rule 2 in the “Appostrophes” section of Grammarbook.com states, ” Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, I recommend Michael Jones’s house.

  85. Daisy says:

    Is it childrens meals – children’s meals – or – childrens’ meals?

    • Jane says:

      Rule 4 in the “Apostrophes” section of Grammarbook.com says, “To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.” Therefore, children’s meals is correct.

  86. Billy Alder says:

    Last name Childs — how do I punctuate this…..??

    The Childs purchased the Olive street house in 1948, lived in it for two years and then left for duties abroad.

    Or is this good…………??

    thx……..billy

    • Jane says:

      The plural for the name Childs is the Childses. If the first names are known, it could be “Bob and Betty Childs purchased the Olive Street house in 1948, lived in it for two years, and then left for duties abroad.”

  87. Maria says:

    How do we properly say the Ryan Sisters’s CD launch?

    Thanks,

    Maria

    • Jane says:

      Rule 4 in the “Apostrophes” section of Grammarbook.com states,”To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.” The plural of the noun sister is sisters, then use the appostrophe to show possession.

      The Ryan Sisters’ CD launch.

  88. Shawn says:

    For 6 years you have helped everyone who has posted with their questions and concerns here.

    I have gone through and read them all; I want to thank you for continuing to help us, years later, and for being so knowledgeable and helpful.

    Thank you!

  89. Carla says:

    Which is correct: “Patrick and Thomas’s return from overseas” or “Patrick and Thomas’ return from overseas”? I want to indicate joint ownership.

    • Carla says:

      Ah, I just read rule #8, and it looks like “Patrick and Thomas’s…” is the correct one to use. Is there any case where “Patrick and Thomas’…” would be correct?

      • Jane says:

        To avoid confusion, I recommend using the apostrophe “s” on all names ending in “s.” Patrick and Thomas’s is the preferred spelling. Not all style manuals may agree.

  90. Suzanne says:

    My last name is Yates. I thought I was suppose to write, “Dr. Yates’s area of expertise is . . . because I am just one person and I am not Jesus or Moses. My collaborators, however, tell me I should be saying, “Dr. Yates’ area of expertise is . . . ” because my name ends in an “s” sound, not a “z” sound. Which is correct? Or can one make a case for either? Thanks in advance for answering a long-standing question which has plagued me, quite literally, all of my life.

    • Jane says:

      Our rule as stated in the blog “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z” says, “To show singular possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, use the apostrophe and another s.” However, not all style manuals agree. For example, AP Stylebook says, “Singular proper names ending in s: Use only an apostrophe.” Since there is disagreement between the different style guides, this is probably one of the more flexible “rules.” In my opinion, Chicago Manual of Style has the best explanation in commenting on using only an apostrophe: “Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago Manual of Style.” Therefore, I agree with you in writing, “Dr. Yates’s area of expertise is . . . “

  91. Lauren says:

    Question: I see people adding “‘s” to abbreviations that are simply being pluralized (like CDs). We just put out a bunch of awards for students getting all As and Bs. Is the way I’ve written that correct, or would you write A’s and B’s? The latter doesn’t make sense to me (since they’re not possessive), but it seems to be the norm.

    Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      This is a good question because it represents an exception to one of our rules. Rule 11 in the “Apostrophes” section of our website states, “The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.” The exception is when the meaning would be unclear otherwise such as with A’s or I’s (not to be confused with the words As or Is). If you feel that, in your particular context, there would be no confusion with the word As, then you may choose to omit the apostrophe.

  92. Karen says:

    The AP Stylebook says this:
    “SINGULAR PROPER NAMES ENDING IN S: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles’ heel, Agnes’ book, Ceres’ rites, Descartes’ theories, Dickens’ novels, Euripides’ dramas, Hercules’ labors, Jesus’ life, Jules’ seat, Kansas’ schools, Moses’ law, Socrates’ life, Tennessee Williams’ plays, Xerxes’ armies. (An exception is St. James’s Palace.)”
    For me, that’s the last word.
    And by the way, there is no differentiation between “ancient” proper names and current proper names. What an odd notion!

    • Jane says:

      This topic has been discussed several times in our blog “Apostrophes with Words Ending in ‘s.’” The different style manuals are not all in agreement. We prefer to follow The Chicago Manual of Style which states, “Some writers and publishers prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s–hence “Dylan Thomas’ poetry,” “Etta James’ singing,” and “that business’ main concern.” Though easy to apply and economical, such usage disregards pronunciation and is therefore not recommended by Chicago.” (7.21)

      The discussion you refer to regarding the differentiation between “ancient” proper names and current proper names is from a blog discussion dated February 4, 2007. The Chicago Manual of Style used to differentiate between ancient proper names and current proper names in regard to the possessive form. They no longer recommend making an exception, therefore, Euripides’s tragedies, the Ganges’s source, and Xerxes’s armies are the correct spellings.

  93. Teresa says:

    Dear Jane,

    I have recently started working in a school and feel very embarrassed that I am now confused after 28 years of working that I don’t know where the apostophes should be.

    For e.g.

    The teachers will be travelling on the bus with the children. Should that be ‘s s’ or neither?

    The childs bag should be left out side.

    The students need to be in the hall tomorrow waiting for the teachers.

    I’m confused and need to school. All these different ways have put me back years. LOL.

    Please help.

    • Jane says:

      Rule 2 in our “Apostrophes” section says, “Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession.” In your first sentence, the word teachers is a simple plural noun, so no apostrophe is needed. The word child’s in the second sentence is a possessive noun (belonging to the child) and needs an apostrophe. Your third sentence does not contain any possessive nouns, just plurals, therefore, no apostrophes are needed. You may find it helpful to review the rules in our “Apostrophes” section on our website, GrammarBook.com.

  94. Jim says:

    How would you write the three Smith brothers’ basketballs were lost. Note: the (three) brothers last name is Smith

    Would you write: The three Smith brothers’ basketballs were lost.

    If the last name was Jones would you write: The three Jones brothers’ basketballs were lost.

    • Jane says:

      You are correct since the names Smith and Jones are serving as adjectives for the plural possessive noun brothers‘. However, if you were talking about basketballs that belonged to an entire family, then it would be:

      The Smiths’ basketballs were lost.
      The Joneses’ basketballs were lost.

  95. Gladys says:

    Can I write Unites States’s cities (use of ‘s at the end of the word United States????

    • Jane says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule (7.19) states, “When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural, the possessives of both are formed by the addition of an apostrophe only…
      The same rule applies when the name of a place or an organization or a publication (or the last element in the name) is a plural form ending in s, such as the United States, even though the entity is singular.”

      United States’ cities OR
      United States cities (non-possessive form with United States being an adjective to describe cities; meaning cities located in the United States)

  96. George says:

    Hey, ok if someone’s name was gorgeous, would the plural form be gorgeouses and singular form be gorgeous’s

    • Jane says:

      Since all names should be capitalized, the singular form would be Gorgeous and the singular possessive would be Gorgeous’s. The plural form, if there were two people with the same name, would be written Gorgeouses.

  97. Peta says:

    Please help. In my literacy class today we had an apostrophe placed in a spot I didnt agree with. If the sentence is “The peoples umbrellas blew away” where should the apostrophe go? I think it should go after people – the people own the umbrellas, not the peoples, but most others in the discussion disagreed with me and think it should go after the s.

  98. Lucia says:

    Hello Jane,

    I’m writing a Contract for a company named Best-Painters. So when I mention Best-Painters it’s singular, because it is the name of the company so, could you please tell me if its correct how I apply the apostrophe in the next sentences?

    - In general, the user should not realize any action that commits an outrage against Best-Painters’s good functioning.
    - You agree not sending e-mails with viruses to the Best-Painters’s community.
    - Create an account using the Best-Painters.com’s site.
    - Do you want to know more about Best-Painters’s services?
    - Regards from the Best-Painters’s Team

    I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you,
    Lucia

    • Jane says:

      Yes, the rules for singular possession apply here. The NOTE in Rule 2 on singular possession says, “Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” However, in this particular case, perhaps due to the length of the company’s name, the s’s construction sounds a bit clunky to me. So, you have a choice and both would be acceptable; just be consistent.

      In the first sentence, either Best-Painters’ or Best-Painters’s is correct, but the meaning of the sentence is unclear. I suggest rewriting the sentence to simplify the meaning.

      You do not need to use a possessive form in the next two sentences or the last sentence since “the Best-Painters” describes the community, website, and team. (A possessive would be formed if the were omitted.)

      You agree not to send e-mails with viruses to the Best-Painters community.
      Create an account using the Best-Painters.com site [or website].
      Regards from the Best-Painters team.

      The next sentence is correct either way:
      Do you want to know more about Best-Painters’ [or Best-Painters's] services?

  99. albert geiser says:

    Hi, I have discovered that Facebook’s grammar checker is treating somebody’s else {noun} as correct, and somebody else’s {noun} as incorrect. In searching I found that several decades ago there was an ongoing debate among grammarians and editors throughout print media about which one would be correct. I see the grammatical sense in somebody’s else, since else modifies the noun. Somebody’s else book. What is your take on this? Is this an indication FB used a very old style manual, or is there a current formal style manual, such as the Chicago Manual, which is allowing for this? – Sincerely, Albert Geiser.

    • Jane says:

      I have never heard of the phrase “somebody’s else,” nor can I find anything in The Chicago Manual of Style that specifically addresses somebody else’s but we can get close. Chicago‘s rule states, “To form the possessive, the indefinite pronoun may take ‘s {that is no one’s fault} {Is this anyone’s jacket?} or the adverb else plus ‘s {don’t interfere with anybody else’s business} {no one else’s cups were broken}.”

  100. Dian says:

    3. The lass’s clothing showed her sewing skills.

    How if I wrote this way: The lass’ clothing showed her sewing skills.

    • Jane says:

      The rule in our blog “Apostrophes with Words Ending in “s” says, “To show singular possession for a word ending in an s or s sound, use the apostrophe and another s.” This represents American English rules and follows the Chicago Manual of Style.

  101. Cheri says:

    I have a company name that is often abbreviated with an acronym. The company name is three words and ends with “Systems”… How do I show possession in this case? Should it be XYS’s or XYS’?

    • Jane says:

      Even though the company name ends with the word Systems, it is still one single company. Also, the S in your company’s abbreviation stands for the full word Systems. Therefore, write XYS’s.

  102. Lovia says:

    Hello, My daugher is having a baby boy and she will spell his name Ja’mari is this corrected.

  103. Jon Taylor says:

    I’ve been trying to figure this out for Arkansas. I’m wanting to put on my website: “…worked at Arkansas’ only Apple Specialist.”

    Is it Arkansas’ or Arkansas’s?

    • Jane says:

      Our Rule 2 in Apostrophes says, “Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession. NOTE: Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.” Therefore, Arkansas’s is preferred. This is also consistent with The Chicago Manual of Style, which advises: “. . . words and names ending in an unpronounced s form the possessive in the usual way (with the addition of an apostrophe and an s). This practice not only recognizes that the additional s is often pronounced but adds to the appearance of consistency with the possessive forms of other types of proper nouns.”

  104. daadoor says:

    This is a first time to go throught this wibside that i have got excited by because it has a lot of wonderful benefit for readers and those looking to study english languages.
    from now up im going to be permenant custmer on this side and after that well add and share with other coleaques who used to inrich the wibside continuously.

    Thanks

    • Jane says:

      Thank you for your compliment about our website. We are happy that you think that it will benefit those people who want to study the English language and that you plan to share it with your colleagues.

  105. Tina says:

    Thanks for this site.
    I saw something recently that isn’t seen much anymore. Long ago there were just firemen, mailmen, etc. Now they are more commonly gender neutral – firefighters, mail carriers, etc.

    I read the word “mailmen’s” recently and know it just seemed wrong. It needed to show the possessive & not just the plural. Similar to using children’s, which is just fine gramaticaly. Grammar check caught it too. Anyway I’m wondering if you just have to say it more formally – “the uniform of the mailmen” or if there is a correct way to use the apostrophe s.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Jane says:

      Our Rule 4 of Apostrophes is “To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.” Plural of mailman is mailmen. Thus, the plural possessive is mailmen’s. Grammar check programs are not always accurate.
      The mailmen’s uniforms were blue. Or, in gender neutral terms, the mail carriers’ uniforms were blue.

  106. John W says:

    Hi

    Gives me problems all the time.

    Is there not a case where there is not REAL ownership and we have a name with ‘s’ ending.

    Hank Williams museum?

    Hank Williams’ guitar. OK

    Williams place in music history?

    Hank Williams reputation? legacy?

    This is a good example because you could use first name for clarity.

    Hank’s reputation.

    But still in real life in Williams is is hardly ever used.

    John W

    • John W says:

      correction already:: Williams’ is almost never used.

      • Jane says:

        In the case of the Hank Williams Museum, since the museum is not actually owned by Hank Williams, the possessive form is not used. In the case of his guitar, place in music history, reputation, and legacy we do need to use the singular possessive form. The rule in our blog “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z” (consistent with The Chicago Manual of Style) is, “To show singular possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, use the apostrophe and another s.
        Examples:
        Bill Williams’s car
        Harry Birch’s house
        Mrs. Sanchez’s children”

        However, The Associated Press Stylebook would use only an apostrophe.

        Therefore, you may write Hank Williams’s guitar, Hank Williams’s place in music history, Hank Williams’s reputation, and Hank Williams’s legacy or Hank Williams’ guitar, Hank Williams’ place in music history, Hank Williams’ reputation, and Hank Williams’ legacy. Just be consistent.

  107. Joe says:

    Okay, I have just a quick question. I’m debating with the owner of my team, the Outlaws. Which is proper, my teammates and I are Outlaws’ players or Outlaw players? I am almost positive that we are Outlaws’ players. Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      It appears that neither is correct.The Associated Press Stylebook says, “Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.” Therefore, write “an Outlaws player,” or “Outlaws players.”

  108. Anna says:

    Hi,

    I am writing a letter about Macy’s (this is exactly how their company uses the apostrophe). I want to start a sentence with “As a part of Macy’s sponsorship..” would I leave it without any changes or would I make it “As a part of Macys’ sponsorship…”

    • Jane says:

      Since Macy’s is a singular noun, write the word exactly how the company spells the name.

      • Felicia says:

        Hi, Jane. I thought this question was interesting! If “Macy’s” is the singular noun, though (e.g., I went to Macy’s to buy clothes.), wouldn’t the singular possessive be “Macy’s's” (if we were following the rules). I know that look ridiculous, but the [singular noun]‘s rule is being followed. The company policy is probably to just avoid the issue all together!

        • Jane says:

          It is an interesting question. I think that Macy’s sponsorship is fine. In these situations, company brand names become a special type of collective noun. Writing a word with two apostrophes is overly slavish to the rules and extremely awkward. As George Orwell wrote in 1946 in Politics and the English Language, “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.” A better option could be to rearrange the phrase to read a sponsorship of Macy’s department stores.

  109. John says:

    I need help. For my project, I ran into a problem with possesion. Is this right; The Philippines’s government.

    • Jane says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 7.19 says, “When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural (i.e., the plural is uninflected), the possessives of both are formed by the addition of an apostrophe only. If ambiguity threatens, use of to avoid the possessive.
      politics’ true meaning
      economics’ forerunners
      this species’ first record (or, better, the first record of this species)

      The same rule applies when the name of a place or an organization or a publication (or the last element in the name) is a plural form ending in s, such as the United States, even though the entity is singular.
      the United States’ role in international law
      Highland Hills’ late mayor
      Callaway Gardens’ former curator
      the National Academy of Sciences’ new policy”

      Therefore, write the Phillippines’ government.

  110. Melanie Peterson says:

    There is a battle in our house over a repeated invite to a pasta party our son received.
    Quinn’s house is used repeatedly. Quinn is the last name. I have delicately answered the John is happy to attend the party at the Quinns’ house thank you.
    I am just double checking I am correct.

    • Jane says:

      You are correct as long as the location of the party is being referred to in the invitation as the house where the Quinns live, i.e., the Quinns’ house. However, if the location of the party is being referred to only as the place where your son’s friend lives, and, if he commonly is addressed by his friends as Quinn rather than by his first name, then the party could be at Quinn’s house (notice the absence of the in front of Quinn).

  111. Barry says:

    What about the princess who owns diamonds? Also what if she has two sisters who also own diamonds?

    • Jane says:

      The rules above state, “To show singular possession for a word ending in an s or s sound, use the apostrophe and another s,” and “To show plural possession of a word ending in an s or s sound, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.” Therefore, write the princess’s diamonds and the princesses’ diamonds.

  112. Kathy Rosenbaum says:

    I am so confused: my boss and I disagree on the use of the apostrophe on the word subsidiaries as used in the sentence below. Please clear up the argument for me.

    Thanks.

    Background Information:
    Some clients (and their subsidiaries’) have recently requested that all of their documents be treated as highly confidential.

    • Jane says:

      The word subsidiaries is not a possessive noun in your sentence; it is simply a plural noun. Therefore, no apostrophe is needed. However, if requests had come from subsidiaries of multiple clients, and the sentence were written using clients as an adjective, it would be: Some clients’ subsidiaries requested that all of their documents be treated as confidential.

  113. Phil says:

    Thank you – this has been very instructive. I worked in a technical discipline for many years. The writing styles of some colleagues was difficult to comprehend. I have had this apostrophe discussion on many occasions and someone would always cite some style guide or another. I’m sure I erred on occasion but always strove to get it right.

    With regard to style guides, I suppose as used by publishers and newspapers, which are the most respected and most used for American English?

  114. Pjuk says:

    Jane, I can follow most of these arguments – some seem obvious, some a little fatuous – but I am having trouble with a specific issue that is affecting me and I’d appreciate some advice.

    I do some freelance writing about the football team West Ham United known as the Hammers. I often get pulled up by people commenting on my blogs regarding the use of the apostrophe. The Apostrophe Society itself has suggested that ‘I am a Hammers’s fan’ is the correct usage – something I find abhorrent – but even this supposedly definitive argument became disputed because of the issue of both possession and singularity. The Hammers are a team obviously but also it is a noun given to the club as a whole, the fans don’t own the club in real terms either but they belong to the club as fans. Are the Hammers a plural or a singular (I can make arguments for both).

    No UK media outlet would ever use Hammers’s in any context anyway but even so I get confused over the usage in the following: “I am a Hammers fan” or “Buoyant Hammers fans are looking forward to a new season” or “the Hammers went on the attack early in the game”.

    I note a comment above that you ‘do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: a Cincinnati Reds infielder’ wouldn’t that then apply to a Hammers fan? I hope so – it would make my life easier! What do you think?

    • Jane says:

      Since the Hammers are a team, I consider the word Hammers as falling into the category of collective nouns. Our blog Subject and Verb Agreement with Collective Nouns discusses in more detail the question of whether a team is singular or plural. It depends on the context of the sentence. If the team is acting as a unit, it is considered a singular noun.

      The Associated Press Stylebook says, “Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.” In American English usage this rule would also apply to “a Hammers fan,” which certainly looks and sounds a lot less awkward than “a Hammers’s fan.”

  115. George says:

    Plural possessive for noun ending with “ss?” Example, the Tess family picnic or the Tesses’picnic. What is the correct spelling?

  116. rem says:

    how will you read that??/ – CLASS’S – /classes/ or /class/ thanks

    • Jane says:

      I’m sorry, but I find your question difficult to understand due to the overuse of symbols and lack of proper punctuation. I am going to guess that you are asking how to pronounce the word class’s, as in “The class’s preference is for a picnic on the last day of school.” It is pronounced the same as classes.

  117. veronica says:

    To those of you who purport the usage of “apostrophe s” after words ending in “s”, you are mistaken. I took English from a teacher educated at Oxford in England, I am an English major myself, and the “apostrophe s” after a word ending in “s” is a common error. The correct written form as well as speaking for for words ending in “s” is as if the word is singular possessive ie Jesus’, Chris’, Jess’. It is NOT Jesus’s, Chris’s, Jess’s. The second example is extremely poor use of the apostrophe to note singular possessive context. Yet it is commonly accepted as writers, authors etc. have not paid attention and do not know the “rules”.

    • Jane says:

      There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent. The practices in England may differ from those in the United States

  118. MovieJay says:

    This argument is alive again with the new film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”.

    I think it is appropriate that the production company went with that over Lee Daniels’s The Butler, because we would not pronounce it Daniel-ziz.

    I used to know a Daniels family, and you’d never say the Danielziz. You’d say the Daniels, no matter what.

    • Jane says:

      In February 2014, a new edition of the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation will be issued. A portion of Rule 1, Apostrophes, will state, “Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.”

  119. Alan says:

    In Friday Night Lights the two characters that are the Riggins brothers have a business.

    Would Riggins’s Rigs

    or

    Riggins’ Rigs, be correct?

    • Jane says:

      Things can get really confusing with the possessive plurals of proper names ending in s. Our Rule 4 of Apostrophes says,”To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe.” The plural of Riggins is Rigginses. To show possession, add an apostrophe. Although it may seem awkward, Rigginses’ Rigs is correct.

  120. Ashley Wheeler says:

    I am doing an online application for a University that I am really interested in, so I am triple checking every word, basically. So, I was wondering about the word campus and how I would show possession for that word, such as its environment. Please help.

    • Jane says:

      In February 2014, a new edition of the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation will be issued. A portion of Rule 1, Apostrophes, will state, “Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.” Therefore, you may write the campus’s environment, the campus’ environment, or the environment of the campus.

  121. Swordroll says:

    I’ve run into two sets of boots in an online game that read:

    Hades’ Firestriders
    Zeus’ Flamewalkers

    Based on your post, it would seem to me that they should read:

    Hades’s Firestriders
    Zeus’s Flamewalkers

    Which is the correct way? Thought I’d check before I go making a fool of myself for my rusty grammar. ;P

    • Jane says:

      In February 2014, a new edition of the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation will be issued. A portion of Rule 1, Apostrophes, will state, “Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.”

  122. Nick says:

    Wow, what an intriguing article! I have always kind of wondered what was really correct, so alright! Thanks, Jane!

    -Nick

  123. Help! In the book I am editing, one of the main characters (if you want to call it that) is a family funeral home belonging to a family named “Lowe.” When the author talks about a visitation at “Lowe’s,” is that the correct use of the possessive apostrophe?

    Other examples: “…..hearse pulled in to Lowe’s driveway
    “Lowe’s had never been that crowded in many years.”

    Correct? or not?

    • Jane says:

      If we were talking about a family named Lowe, they would be the Lowes and if we visited them we would be visiting the Lowes’ home. However, if a business is called Lowe’s, or Lowe’s Funeral Home perhaps, then your examples are correct.

  124. sirtrollsalot says:

    How would the name Lars work?
    Would it be Lars’ or Lars’s?

    • Jane says:

      In February 2014, a new edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation will be issued. A portion of Rule 1, Apostrophes, will state, “There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent. Some writers and editors add only an apostrophe to all nouns ending in s. And some add ’s to every proper noun, be it Hastings’s or Jones’s. One method, common in newspapers and magazines, is to add an apostrophe plus s (-’s) to common nouns ending in s, but only a stand-alone apostrophe to proper nouns ending in s.”

      Assuming that you are speaking about the possessive form for one person whose first name is Lars, either one of your options is correct.

  125. Sherry says:

    An app of this incredibly helpful site would be wonderful.

  126. Star says:

    I’m still li’l bit confused about it.

  127. Laurie says:

    Hello! I have carefully reviewed your lesson and want to confirm if I have got this all straight… :-)

    Let us say the Smothers family was having a picnic at their campground when ants invaded. They fled the scene and went to a restaurant.

    We just read about the Smothers’.
    Ants ruined the Smothers’s picnic.
    The flight of the Smothers’ was unavoidable.
    I assume they piled into the Smothers’ Family car.
    The Smothers’ wouldn’t recommend that park to others.
    The Brooms’ picnicked there, with the Brooms’s dog Spot.
    The others’ view of the Smothers departure was shock.
    Ten families picnicked at those campgrounds but the Wenders’s site was clearly more ant-infested than the others’.

    If you will be so kind, please approve or correct the grammar in the above statements. Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      We just read about the Smotherses. (Do not use an apostrophe to make a name plural. Yes, this sounds awkward, but it is grammatically correct. You could also say, “We just read about the Smothers family.)
      Ants ruined the Smotherses’ picnic. (If a name ends in s, add -es for the plural. Then to show possession, add an apostrophe.)
      The flight of the Smotherses was unavoidable. (Same reason as first sentence.)
      I assume they piled into the Smotherses’ family car. (Same reason as second sentence.)
      The Smotherses wouldn’t recommend that park to others. (Same reason as first sentence.)
      The Brooms picnicked there with the Brooms’ dog Spot. (Assuming the family’s last name is Broom, add s to make the plural and an apostrophe to show possession.)
      The others’ view of the Smotherses’ departure was shock. (A bit awkward. Perhaps you meant “The others viewed the Smotherses’ departure with shock.”)
      Ten families picnicked at those campgrounds but the Wenderses’ site was clearly more ant-infested than the others. (Assuming the family’s last name is Wenders, add -es for the plural and an apostrophe to show possession.)

  128. Laurie says:

    One more… the family we just discussed (and their neighbours) are making decorative signs to hang at the front of their homes. Please show me the correct way to do such signs.

    Are these grammatically correct possibilities, referring to the home the family lives in?
    The Smith’s
    The Smothers’
    The Carlisles’

    and what about these, referring to the families that live within?
    The Smith Family
    The Smothers Family
    The Carlisles’ Family

    if I were creating a sign to hang outside the home of the picnicking family just discussed, should the sign read “The Smothers Family”?

    • Jane says:

      The Smiths’ [home] OR The Smiths [live here]
      The Smotherses’ [home] OR The Smotherses [live here]
      The Carlisles’ [home] OR The Carlisles [live here]
      The Smith Family
      The Carlisle Family
      The sign could read “The Smothers Family.”

  129. Mike says:

    Christmas cards…’s or not? Is it “The Smith’s” or “The Smiths”? And on these cards what about if the name ends with an ‘s’, such as Buss ? Would it be “The Busses” ?

    • Jane says:

      Since you are referring to a family (more than one person), it is a plural, not a possessive form. An apostrophe is not necessary. If a family’s name ends in s, we must add -es for the plural.
      The Smiths
      The Busses

  130. Tiny says:

    How would a company name ending in the word Partners work as a possessive? For example, I’m working with this sentence…”Jones Real Estate Partners focus on dedicated, “best-of-class” management optimizes tenant loyalty.” Would Partners have s’ at the end?

    • Jane says:

      In your sentence, the word Partners is a plural form, not possessive, therefore no apostrophe is needed. Also, it appears that a word might be missing from your sentence.
      Jones Real Estate Partners focus on dedicated, “best-of-class” management that optimizes tenant loyalty.

      One other detail you might consider: to our eyes, the hyphens in “best-of-class” are unnecessary because of the quotation marks.

      This is an example of the word partners as a possessive:
      Jones Real Estate Partners’ offices are being renovated next week.

  131. James says:

    Very Helpful

  132. Sean says:

    I am someone who was taught that only an apostrophe was necessary for possessive nouns ending in s (both singular and possessive). Although it’s not recommended here, it’s still an acceptable policy as long as I remain consistent, correct?

  133. Stephen S. Noetzel says:

    I serve as President of the Veterans Affairs Commission, City and County of San Francisco.
    Some self-appointed experts insist that there should be an apostrophe at end of first word in title (i.e. Veterans’ Affairs Commission).
    I say…not needed; not appropriate.
    What say the experts?

    • Jane says:

      Both The Chicago Manual of Style and The AP Stylebook agree on the term “Veterans Affairs” (as well as “Veterans Day,” no apostrophe in either case). While they are addressing the federal agency, we believe it would be safe to assume these two references would also endorse the terms in the case of the City and County of San Francisco.

      The following rule is extracted from the Chicago Manual of Style:

      The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively—to modify another noun—is sometimes fuzzy, especially in the plural. Although terms such as employees’ cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) that do not use one or where there is clearly no possessive meaning.

      children’s rights

      taxpayers’ associations (or taxpayer associations)
      consumers’ group (or consumer group)

      but
      Publishers Weekly
      Diners Club
      Department of Veterans Affairs

      From The AP Stylebook:
      Veterans Affairs Formerly Veterans Administration, it became Cabinet level in March 1989 with the full title Department of Veterans Affairs.

  134. Heather says:

    Would it be Jones’ and Smith’s Store or Jones and Smith’s Store?

  135. rahul says:

    i have given my pen to my friend last night.that’s why i can’t bring it now.

  136. Dave Reyburn says:

    Very helpful but the “Lagos Airport” example is a great example of what I always found so frustrating about English grammar’s rules– their inconsistency. Following the advice in Rule 1, it make sense to write “Lagos’s Airport.” So why is “Texas’ weather” not written “Texas’s weather?”

    I would appreciate it if you could advise whether I am misinterpreting the rule because, frankly, not knowing is driving me crazy and my productivity this morning has come to a screeching halt this morning!

    If the need to apply the possession rule to a proper noun arises in the meantime, I will fall back on advice from the late James Kirkpatrick and circumvent the rule entirely by saying “The Lagos Airport.” or “the weather in Texas.”

    Thanks.

    Perhaps I answered ,y

    • You are correct that the answer to our quiz question could be changed to “We understand Lagos’s airport handled over one million passengers last year,” or “We understand Lagos’ airport handled over one million passengers last year.”
      As we mentioned in our Rule 1, there are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent. Newspapers and magazines tend to want to save space, therefore preferring “Lagos’ airport” over “Lagos’s airport.” If space is not a concern, writing “Lagos’s airport” is acceptable.

  137. Sabrina A. says:

    This was very helpful, especially the pop quiz at the end. I don’t think I’ll ever get confused again :-) Thank you!

  138. Sara says:

    In an initial reply, I saw you wrote, “being build on…”.
    Should this not be ‘being built on’ or ‘having been built on’?

    • Perhaps you are referring to the comment from Jason of March 6, 2012. While we print comments from our readers as written, our responses will contain correct grammar and punctuation.

  139. AR Simmons says:

    What is the rule or usage when the ending noun is left off as in: He went to the Stouts’(place)to see if they were home.

    • Assuming that the sentence refers to the house where the Stout family lives, the rule is the same as if the sentence read “He went to the Stouts’ house to see if they were home.” Since the name Stout does not end in s, to form the plural possessive, add s’.

      He went to the Stouts’ to see if they were home.

  140. Susu says:

    Hello,
    Can you please help me to correctly place the apostrophe in the following sentence,
    ‘Also, Toms use of sarcasm is clear’

    Would there be an apostrophe before/after the ‘S’ in ‘Tom’?
    Thank you.

  141. hamdi says:

    how are you .it is my first time to write to you I have some questions
    choose
    1 -Iwill meet you at the (supermarket’s-supermarket)car park.
    2- do you want me to do (anything-something)dad?
    3-She cannot find her mobile.Someone(must-may-might)have hidden it

    • n American English, the place where you park your car when you go to the supermarket is usually called a “parking lot.” If you are using the word supermarket as an adjective to describe the parking lot, no apostrophe is needed, but “supermarket’s” is also correct.

      I will meet you at the supermarket parking lot.

      Your second sentence should begin with a capital letter. Use a comma before or surrounding the name or title of a person directly addressed. Also, capitalize relatives’ family names (kinship names) when they are used alone in place of a personal name. Either anything or something is acceptable in your sentence.

      Do you want me to do anything, Dad? OR
      Do you want me to do something, Dad?

      In your third sentence, “must,” “may,” and “might” are all grammatically correct, depending on what you mean. It is important to put the correct spacing between the words and sentences. In American English, we generally call them mobile phones or cell phones.

      She cannot find her mobile phone. Someone must have hidden it. OR
      She cannot find her mobile phone. Someone may have hidden it. OR
      She cannot find her mobile phone. Someone might have hidden it.

  142. Edward says:

    Yesterdays’ sparring or yesterday’s sparring? Natures’ spring or Nature’s spring?

  143. hamdi says:

    How do you do?
    I have a question,please.
    Choose
    If you ……… part in next year’s race. you should start training right now.
    ( have taken – takes – will take – took )

    • Since you are referring to the future, you could write “If you will take part in next year’s race, you should start training right now.” However, writing “will be” expresses the idea that a person plans to do something in the future. Therefore, the sentence below is a better option. Also, please note that there is a comma, not a period, since it is all one sentence.

      “If you will be taking part in next year’s race, you should start training right now.”

  144. hamdi says:

    Choose:
    He prefers that she ……personally with him.
    speak – speaks – is speaking- should speak

  145. hamdi says:

    I am happy to write to you again and I have 2questions, please
    1- How much milk and butter (is – or – are )in the fridge?

    2-I must have done my homework ,……….? ( Add tag question )

  146. Joe says:

    This web page is the WORST. It’s really a BAD instructor who starts off a topic like this with a millennial free-for-all exposition on the different “options” for using an apostrophe however you feel like on a given day. You know there are lots of people out there who will read this and come away thinking there is no rule. So what’s the point of teaching somebody English if you’re not really teaching them? Major thumbs down.

    • We are sorry that you have difficulty with situations where there can be more than one correct answer. If you click on the tab “English Rules” at the top of the web page, followed by “Punctuation Rules” and “Apostrophes,” you will find 13 clearly stated rules and examples for using apostrophes. In addition, there are 11 different blogs specifically dealing with individual rules regarding the use of apostrophes. We think that you will find the rules to be clear, concise, and quite easy to understand and apply.

      You need to understand the difference between rules and policies. Where there is not universal agreement among the authorities, as is the case with possessive apostrophes and plural nouns ending in s, we would be remiss if we did not inform readers of that fact.

  147. Gwen says:

    Is this correct: The Ministers’, Deacons’ and Trustees’ Wives of the SRBA-UD currently have the Rainbow Tea Banquet tickets for purchase. Tickets are $25.00 each.

    • Your apostrophes are correct, but we recommend writing:

      The ministers’, deacons’, and trustees’ wives of the SRBA-UD currently have the Rainbow Tea Banquet tickets for purchase. Tickets are $25.00 each.

  148. Robert says:

    How would you properly use a subject showing possession of something else that is showing possession???

    Ex: Katie’s father’s name

    Katie is showing possession of her father, her father is showing possession of his name.

  149. Bryan says:

    Would “Independents Day” be plural or singular? This day has no necessary correlation to the 4th of July.
    I’m just wondering if, by definition, independents would be a group, spelled “independents’ ” which would make them dependent on the group, or simply a gathering of independents, spelled “independent’s”, to indicate the day singularly theirs.
    No, I’m not trying to be a wise guy. It’s just something that crossed my inquisitive mind this morning under the influence of too much caffeine.

    • From The Chicago Manual of Style:

      The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively—to modify another noun—is sometimes fuzzy, especially in the plural. Although terms such as employees’ cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) that do not use one or where there is clearly no possessive meaning.
      children’s rights
      farmers’ market
      women’s soccer team
      boys’ clubs
      taxpayers’ associations (or taxpayer associations)
      consumers’ group (or consumer group)
      but
      Publishers Weekly
      Diners Club
      Department of Veterans Affairs

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