When Does The Apostrophe Go After The S (Grammar Guide)

When it comes to English grammar, there are more rules than you can count. But there are a few rules that are especially confusing. When it comes to using apostrophes, it can be tough to know when to place the apostrophe after the letter S. This article will help you understand how to use apostrophes with plural words & nouns ending in S.

When To Put The Apostrophe After The S

chalkboard explaining to put the apostrophe after the S for plural nouns in the possessive form

Misusing apostrophes is one of the most common grammatical errors. People are confused about how to use an apostrophe after the letter “s”.

The general rule is that if the possessive noun is plural, add an apostrophe after the “s”.

For example:

  • If you are talking about the possessive plural noun “cats”, you would say “the cats‘ toys”.
  • “The two boys‘ toy cars”

The first thing to consider is if the word is a singular noun or plural noun. If the noun is plural and in the possessive form, put the apostrophe after the -S. However, this rule does not apply to possessive pronouns such as ours, theirs, or yours.

Takeaway: Place the apostrophe and other -S when the possessor is plural.

When To Put The Apostrophe Before The S

teacher explaining to put the apostrophe before the S with singular proper noun in the possessive form

A singular noun does NOT follow the same rules as nouns in the plural form. Singular possessive nouns place the apostrophe before the -S. The apostrophe signifies that the noun owns a thing.

Examples:

  • Matt’s car is bright red”
  • Tom’s wife loves to exercise”
  • Mark’s house is bright red with red shutters”

If there is more than one noun that possesses an object, the apostrophe is laced before the -S in the second name. For example, “Mark & Tom’s baseball team is the best in the state.”

Takeaway: Place an apostrophe before the -S to show possession in a singular noun. You can also place an apostrophe after the -S with proper nouns ending in -S.

When To Not Use An Apostrophe

Knowing when not to use an apostrophe is just as important as knowing when to use this punctuation mark. Getting ‘apostrophe happy’ is not always the answer.

For example, possessive pronouns do not use an apostrophe. This includes words like hers, its, mine, ours, theirs, and yours.

Personal pronouns like I, you, and he also do not need an apostrophe.

Incorrect: That is not my bike it is he’s.

Correct: That is not my bike it is his.

Takeaway: Do not use an apostrophe for a personal pronoun or possessive pronoun.

The Possessor Matters

Understanding the possessor is key to knowing how to utilize apostrophes correctly. The possessor is the noun that owns the object or whatever follows.

  1. The rabbit’s food bowl is green.
  2. Mike’s dog loves to run in the backyard.
  3. The Sanchezes‘ dogs jumped the fence into the backyard.

In these examples, the italicized words are the possessors. In plural possessive nouns, the apostrophe goes after the -S. In singular possessive nouns, the apostrophe goes before the -S. This rule especially holds true when writing the possessive form of names like Chris (Chris’ or Chris’s).

Contractions

A contraction is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Contractions are typically used in speech. You should limit contractions in formal writing.

  • An example of this would be the word “don’t,” which is a shortened form of “do not.”

Now that we know what a contraction is, let’s talk about when to use them. In general, you should use contractions in informal writing, like when you’re writing emails or letters to friends and family.

Contractions are also fine to use in fiction writing – they can help create realism by making your dialogue sound more like how people actually speak. Remember to use them sparingly!

FAQs – Apostrophe Rules

Q: When should the apostrophe be after the S?

The apostrophe should be after the -S to show plural possession. It is very common to use an apostrophe to show possession.

Q: Is it Chris’s or Chris’?

In this case, both Chris’s & Chris’ can be correct. Singular nouns that end in -S can add an apostrophe and -S or only an apostrophe. This rule also applies to plural nouns ending in -S.

Q: What is the difference between putting the apostrophe before or after the S?

The apostrophe goes before the -S to form singular possessive nouns. The apostrophe goes after the -S to form plural possessive nouns.

Q: Why do some apostrophes go after the S?

Some apostrophes go after the S to form plural possessive nouns. This rule is most frequently applied to proper nouns. For singular possessive nouns, the apostrophe rules change. In this case, the apostrophe would go before the -S. It is also acceptable to add only an apostrophe for words that already end in -S.

Q: Is it the Smiths or the Smith’s?

Usually, it will be the Smiths. The singular possessive form of Smith would be Smith’s. For example, “My friend Smith’s car is beautiful.”

Q: Is it Jones or Jones’s?

In most cases, Jones is correct. If you want to show possession, then it should be Joneses’. For example, “The Joneses’ cat is always roaming into my yard.” The singular possessive version of Jones would be Jones’s.

Q: Is it the Johnsons or the Johnson’s?

It depends on the context. If you are signing a holiday card, it should be “From the Johnsons”. However, if you are showing possession of a plural noun, it should be “I am going to the Johnsons’ house for a pizza party.”

Q: How do you pluralize a family name?

To pluralize a family name, add -s. For example, the Smiths would become the Smiths’. “We are watching the Smiths’ dog this weekend.”

The Bottom Line

Now you know the rules to use apostrophes correctly. Although it is easy to make mistakes, following these simple rules can significantly improve your writing. Next time you are questioning where to put the apostrophe, consider whether the possessive noun is singular or plural.