Possessive nouns are used to indicate ownership.

Possessive nouns usually are formed by adding an apostrophe (‘) and s.

  • John’s book
  • Kerry’s car
  • Grandma’s mirror

When a noun is plural and ends in s, just add an apostrophe (‘).

  • The kids’ toys
  • My parents’ house
  • The teachers’ lounge

If two people own one thing, add the apostrophe and s to the second person only.

  • John and Mary’s new house
  • David and Sue’s wedding
  • Tom and Doug’s car

If two people own separate things, add the apostrophe and s for each person.

  • Susan’s and Beth’s books
  • Jean’s and Dan’s pants
  • Ben’s and Jim’s offices


Singular Possessives

Add ‘s to singular words to show possession.

Dog’s collar sister’s backpack car’s engine
(dog  +  ‘s) (sister  +  ‘s) (car  +  ‘s)

If a singular word ends in s, it is still necessary to add ‘s.

Charles’s sneakers Bess’s dresses bus’s tires
(Charles  +  ‘s) (Bess  +  ‘s) (bus  +  ‘s)

Plural Possessives

If you have added an s to make a word plural (for example, cat ⇒ cats), adding ‘s will sound ridiculous (cats’s). In that case, add only the apostrophe to the end of the word.

Dogs’ collars sisters’ backpacks cars’ engines
(dogs  +  ‘) (sisters  +  ‘) (cars  +  ‘)

Just like singular possessives, plural possessives that don’t end in s add ‘s.

Children’s homework fish’s bowls octopi’s tentacles
(children  +  ‘s) (fish  +  ‘s) (octopi  +  ‘s)

[Quiz 3.1] ( Possessive Nouns )

Which of the following is not correct?

1)Dr. Hunts has a new computer.
2)Dr. Hunts’s new computer is working well.
3)Dr. Hunts’ computer is new.

View Answers

Both 2 and 3 are the correct answers. In your writing, you should be consistent. If you choose to leave the final ‘s’ out, then leave it out throughout your writing.