Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via emailShare via Facebook Messenger

Possessive Case of Nouns: Rules and Examples

Updated on May 16, 2023Grammar

The possessive case shows the relationship of a noun to other words in a sentence. That relationship can be ownership, possession, occupancy, a personal relationship, or another kind of association.. With the addition of –’s (or sometimes just the apostrophe), a noun can change from a simple person, place, or thing to a person, place, or thing with a relationship to something else. There are a few different ways to form the possessive of a noun. We’ll discuss these ways below.

Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.

Your writing, at its best
Grammarly helps you communicate confidently

Possessive forms of singular nouns

The possessive case of most singular nouns, whether common or proper, is formed by adding –’s to the end. See the following examples:

This is Mary and her dog. The dog is Mary’s pet; Mary is not the dog’s pet.

This thick curtain is capable of shutting out the summer sun’s heat and light.

This general rule usually applies even to names ending in s or z:

You’re sitting in Paz’s chair.

However, this is a matter of style, and some style guides call for leaving off the s after the apostrophe for a name ending in s or z. Neither choice is incorrect.

Brussels’ cathedrals attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Whichever style an organization or writer chooses should be used consistently.

Possessive forms of plural nouns

The possessive case of plural nouns that end in s is formed by adding an apostrophe:

This is the boys’ bedroom.

My parents’ house is a lovely old one.

The scissors’ handles just snapped off.

The Jeffersons’ yard is always beautifully landscaped.

The possessive case of irregular plural nouns that don’t end in s is formed by adding -’s.

This is the way to the men’s meeting.

She got a job in the children’s section of the library.

Here’s a tip: Should you write student’s or students’?

With an ordinary noun like student, the placement of the apostrophe and the s communicates whether you’re referring to something belonging to one student or to multiple studentst. When you’re talking about one student, add -’s the singular noun student:

The student’s favorite subject was science.

When you’re talking about a group of students who share a favorite subject, add an apostrophe to the plural noun students:

The students’ favorite subject was science.

Possessive forms for multiple nouns

When two or more nouns jointly possess one thing, change only the last noun to the possessive case:

Mike and Amanda’s new loft apartment is really neat.

Please tell Juan and Maria’s parents that they’ll be late getting home from school.

When two or more nouns possess things individually that are being discussed together, change both/all nouns to the possessive case:

Please check both Mike’s and Amanda’s schedules before sending the invitation.

Juan’s and Maria’s mothers both work at the university.

Possessives vs. appositives

Many times, if the noun showing a relationship to another word in a sentence is a building, an object, or a piece of furniture, it doesn’t need to be a possessive at all; it can instead be an appositive:

The housekeeper cleaned the hotel room.

We met in the office lobby.

Shut the car door.

Your writing, at its best.
Works on all your favorite websites
iPhone and iPad KeyboardAndroid KeyboardChrome BrowserSafari BrowserFirefox BrowserEdge BrowserWindows OSMicrosoft Office
Related Articles