Grammar Rules on Apostrophe and Possessive Forms

One of the uses of apostrophe or the ‘ sign is to show possession. Apostrophe are usually placed before or after an s at the end of a noun or pronoun to show possession. Below are the simple rules that you should remember in using apostrophe in possessive form.

Rule 1

Apostrophe + s or ‘s is used with singular nouns and plural nouns not ending in s.
Examples: men’s wear, girl’s dress, teacher’s key

Rule 2

For singular nouns ending in s, some writers add ‘ afters (e.g. Chris’ bag) while others add ‘s (e.g. Chris’s bag). Both of them are correct.

Rule 3

For plural nouns, form the plural first and then add ‘ after s.
Examples: girls’ room, students’ records

Note that student’s record means record of one students, while students’ records means records of many students.

Rule 4

In compound nouns, the last word takes the ‘s
Example: My sister-in-law’s car

Rule 5

Add ‘s to the last noun to show join possession of an object.
Example: Marie and Jay’s house

Uses of the Possessive Case

1.) The possessive case is chiefly used by people, countries or animals.
Examples: Mutua’s, Kenya’s, the elephant’s tusk e.t.c

2.) It can also be used by planes, ships, trains, cars and other vehicles — though the ‘of’ construction is safer.
Example: the train’s wagon’s  (preferably the wagons of the train)

3.) Possessive is also used in time expressions.
Examples:  an hour’s drive,  tomorrow’s assignment
4. The possessive case is also used in expressions of money + worth
Example: ten pesos’ worth of candy

A few expressions such as ‘a stone’s throw’, ‘a journey’s end’ e.t.c will use the possessive. Nouns in certain occupations can have the possessive without the second noun.
Examples: the chemist’s, the baker’s, the butcher’s e.t.c

In the next post, we will have a quiz on possessive nouns.

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