Blog/Grammar tips
4 December 2023
3 min read

Navigating the Apostrophe After S: A Simple Guide

The apostrophe, a small yet mighty punctuation mark, often causes confusion, especially when it comes to its placement after the letter 's'. Whether you're writing an email, a report, or a social media post, understanding how to use the apostrophe correctly is crucial for clear and professional communication. In this article, we'll explore the simple rules of using an apostrophe after 's' and provide examples to help you master this aspect of punctuation.

The Role of the Apostrophe After S

The apostrophe serves two main purposes: to indicate possession and to show the omission of letters. When it comes after an 's', it's typically showing possession.

Singular Nouns Ending in S

For most singular nouns ending in 's', add an apostrophe plus 's' to show possession.

  • Example: "James's book is on the table."

Plural Nouns Ending in S

For plural nouns that already end in 's', simply add an apostrophe after the 's'.

  • Example: "The dogs' leashes were tangled."

Special Cases

Some style guides and personal preferences lean towards just adding an apostrophe after singular nouns ending in 's', especially if adding 's' makes the word awkward to pronounce.

  • Example: "Charles' car is parked outside."

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Using Apostrophes After S Effectively

In Everyday Writing

When you're writing day-to-day texts or emails, using the apostrophe correctly can make your message clearer and more professional.

  • Example: "I need to get Chris's opinion on this project."

In Academic and Formal Writing

In academic or formal contexts, paying attention to apostrophe usage is crucial as it reflects on your attention to detail and understanding of grammar.

  • Example: "Dr. Jones's research on this subject is extensive."

In Business Communication

In business communication, correct punctuation is key to maintaining professionalism. An apostrophe error can sometimes change the meaning of your sentence.

  • Example: "We need to review the employees' contracts."

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Using Apostrophes for Plurals: Remember, apostrophes are not used to make words plural. "CDs" not "CD's".
  2. Forgetting Apostrophes in Possessive Forms: Always check if your noun is possessive and if it needs an apostrophe.

Summary and Key Takeaways

The apostrophe after 's' need not be a source of confusion. Remember, for singular nouns ending in 's', add apostrophe plus 's'. For plural nouns ending in 's', just add an apostrophe. And always be mindful of the context and readability of the sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I always add 's' after the apostrophe for singular nouns ending in 's'?

While commonly practiced, some style guides allow for just an apostrophe after singular nouns ending in 's', especially if adding 's' makes the word sound awkward.

How do I use apostrophes for names that end in 's' but are pronounced without the 's' sound?

In such cases, it's generally acceptable to just add an apostrophe without 's' following the pronunciation.

What about possessive pronouns that end in 's', like 'its', 'yours', or 'hers'?

Possessive pronouns do not require an apostrophe. "Its", "yours", "hers", "ours" are already possessive.

Is apostrophe usage different in British and American English?

The basic rules are the same, though British English can be more flexible about omitting the additional 's' after the apostrophe.

Can a business name with an 's' at the end take an apostrophe?

Yes, for a business name ending in 's', follow the same rules for possession. E.g., "Morris's policies".

Conclusion

Mastering the use of the apostrophe after 's' is a small but significant step in improving your writing skills. Whether you're drafting an email, writing an academic paper, or posting on social media, correct punctuation is key to clear and effective communication.

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