The UVic Writer's Guide
Using An Apostrophe To Show Possession
An apostrophe plus "s" is used to form the possessive case of these nouns:
- All singular nouns, including those ending in "s": Rachel's car, the cat's pyjamas, Alice's restaurant, Chris's plants,
the fox's tail.
- Plural nouns which do not end in "s": The People's Court.
An apostrophe alone is used to form the possessive case of these
- Plural nouns ending in "s": the Smiths' house, the foxes' tails.
- Singular nouns that would sound awkward with another "s" added:
Ulysses' adventures, Borges' novels.
If two or more nouns possess something, only the last noun in
the list gets the apostrophe: Homer and Marge's party. If the two nouns possess separate things, however, they each
take an apostrophe: We'll go in Robert's and Neil's cars.
In hyphenated words, only the last word takes an apostrophe: my brother-in-law's boat.
Possessive personal and interrogative pronouns such as yours and whose do not include apostrophes, but possessive indefinite pronouns
such as anyone's and each other's do.
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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria,
This page updated September 21, 1995