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Forming Possessives

1. Use an apostrophe to form the possessives of singular nouns and indefinite pronouns.

A noun or pronoun is “possessive” when it shows ownership or possession. An apostrophe signals that a word is possessive. In general, you can add an apostrophe and an s to singular nouns to make them possessive.

  • Kelly’s microscope is focused now. [That the microscope belongs to Kelly is shown by an s added to Kelly.] 
  • A zebra’s stripes make it unique. [That the stripes belong to the zebra is shown by an s added to zebra.]

A plural noun that ends in an s needs only the apostrophe to make the noun possessive. A plural noun that does not end in s needs both the apostrophe and an s.

  • the Sims’ home [Sims is a plural noun ending in s. An apostrophe alone makes the word possessive.] 
  • the men’s team [Men is a plural noun that does not end in s. An apostrophe and an s make the word possessive.]

Possessive personal pronouns do not need an apostrophe or an s

  • I bought my ticket. [My is the possessive form of the pronoun I.] 
  • David parked his bicycle. [His is the possessive form of the pronoun he.] 
  • The stamp lost its stickiness. [Its is the possessive form of the pronoun it.] 
  • Snakes shed their skin. [Their is the possessive form of the pronoun they.] 

Indefinite pronouns need both an apostrophe and an s to make them possessive. 

  • Is this anybody’s map? 
  • I think I have someone’s jacket.


2. Use an apostrophe to show where letters, numerals, or words have been omitted in a contraction.

A contraction is a shortened form of a word or a number. When you want to shorten a long word, a group of words, or a number, use an apostrophe to show where a letter, word, or number has been left out.

  • wed (we would) 
  • its (it is) 
  • 96 (1996) 
  • oclock (of the clock) 
  • wont (will not) 
  • shouldnt (should not)


Apostrophes Tip

Do not confuse contractions with possessive pronouns. Most possessive pronouns do not use apostrophes. 

  • It’s an ad for a summer job. [It’s is the contraction of It is.] 
  • You’re looking for a job? [You’re is the contraction of You are.] 

  • Its pay is really high. [Its is a possessive pronoun.] 
  • Your job application is finished? [Your is a possessive pronoun.]


3. Use an apostrophe and an s to form plurals of all lowercase letters, of some capital letters, of numerals, of symbols, and of words referred to as words.

  • The word Massachusetts has four s’s in it. [To show more than one s, an s is added after the s.]
  • Write *’s on the items you’re putting in the garage sale. [To show more than one * symbol, the writer put an s after the *.] 
  • The phone number has three 9’s in it. [More than one nine is shown by adding s to the numeral 9.] 
  • The vote was decided by two no’s. [More than one no is shown by adding an s to no.]



To form the plural of abbreviations that end with a period, add an apostrophe and an s. To form the plurals of abbreviations that do not end with periods, add either an s or just an s.

  • Dr.’s 
  • Ph.D.’s 
  • RPM’s 
  • SASEs
Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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