5 thoughts on “Apostrophe s

  1. Matt says:

    Oh, goodness, yes. It still amazes me, even though I should have become accustomed to it long ago, how often apostrophe-s is misused, even by educated professionals. A couple of years ago, I saw what remains one of my favorites: some company’s truck with the slogan “QUALITY AT IT’S BEST” emblazoned on the side. 🙁

  2. Mags says:

    This is one of my pet hates!

    The mis-use of the apostrophe is getting worse and worse! Sometimes it would appear that people just put it in whenever there is an S at the end of a word. For example, “ice cream’s sold here”, salad’s, shoe’s, etc, etc, In some ways, I blame the computer (marvellous though it is), as it does not always recognise the proper use of the apostrophe. I doesn’t like “its” and wants to put in “it’s” everytime!

    Yep, I could rant about this all day….., but I won’t!

  3. Don DuBois says:


    What about the possesive case where the noun ends in an s such as “Davis’ toys” where Davis is one person? That appears to be an exception to the rule that only a plural possesive ends in s apostrophe.

    Then there is the situation which involves a proper name that ends in s such as the Cleveland Browns [football team]. Does one write the Browns’ ranking” or, is it ever correct to write “the Browns’s ranking”?

    Is there ever a case where it’s OK to have a noun ending in s apostrophe s (… s’s) ?


    P.S. Re your husbanb’s recent computer malfunctions etc. , does the Bermuda Triangle’s effects extend down to Costa Rica? Or has April 1st come late to that part of the world and you’re having a little fun with us? I remember when you had me believing you a few years ago on April 1st that the Academie Francaise had redefined some aspects of the French language to make it easier to learn by foreigners. 🙂

  4. Those are good questions, Don. I’ll get back to you. (I admit that I’m tempted to write Davis’s, but that can’t be right.)

    Nope, no April foolery here – the computer has something to say, but we just can’t crack the code.

  5. Don DuBois says:

    The Elements of Style (Strunk) says this about singlular possesive nouns (pg. 1):

    Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.

    Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write:

    Charles’s friend
    Burns’s poems.
    the witch’s malice

    Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus’, and such forms as for conscience’ sake, for righteousness’ sake. But such forms as Moses’ laws, Isis’ temple are commonly replaced by

    the laws of Moses
    the temple of Isis

    The pronominal possessives hers, its, theirs, yours and ours have no postrophe. Indefinite pronouns, however, use the apostrophe to show possession.

    one’s rights
    somebody else’s umbrella

    A common error is to write it’s for its, or vice versa. The first is a contraction, meaning “it is”. The second is a possessive.

    It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.


    Unfortunately, Strunk, as far as I can tell, does not address the case where the noun refers to a multiplicity of persons, things etc.

    Example: the Burns’s family home OR, is it the Burns’ family home?


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