Tag Archives: possessive

Plurals & Possessives…PLEASE!

Oh, dear. This is making me nuts. Some of my  poor li’l students are so flummoxed by the complications of the English plural and the English possessive, they can barely crank out a sentence that isn’t unwittingly hilarious. So even though most of the thousand or so of you who follow this blog NO DOUBT know all about the plural and the possessive, please let’s review the basic principles here, for the sake of future generations.

How to form PLURALS

Form a plural simply by adding -s. If the word ends in -y, change the y to -ies. If it ends in -s or-x, add -es.

one dog
two dogs
one kitty
two kitties

one Xerox
two Xeroxes

one business
two businesses

The only time you need an apostrophe to form a plural is when you want to express plurals of numbers, letters, and strange sounds used as words:

Mind your p’s and q’s.
Count off by 3’s.
His speech is riddled with well’s and uh’s.

Surprising Exception

1980s, 1990s, the 20s
No apostrophe for decades!

Proper names work just like regular nouns, except that if the proper name ends in -y, you keep the -y in the plural (don’t change a proper name to -ies).

How many Smiths can there be in the world?
How many Kennedys can run for public office?
How many Adamses can perform on television?
Here come the Joneses in their new Mazarati!

 Remember: one medium; two or more media

The entertainment media are fun.
Radio is a medium; television is a medium; radio and television are media
. The term news media is plural, despite the commonplace use of it as singular


Use an apostrophe to show possession (that is, “belonging”).

To form a singular possessive (one person or thing owns something):

First write the word in its singular form

the dog
the house
the woman
the child

Then add an apostrophe and an s

the dog’s bowl
the house’s shingles
the woman’s car
the child’s toy
Maria Jones’s Mazarati

To form a plural possessive (more than one person or thing owns something):

First write the word in its plural form

the dogs
the houses
the women
the children

Then, if the plural ends in -s or a z sound, just add an apostrophe

the dogs’ bowls
the houses’ shingles
the Valdezes’ family car
Yes, that is the Joneses’ Mazarati.

 If the plural ends in something other than -s, add an apostrophe and an s:

the women’s cars
the children’s toys

What if the singular ends in s or a z sound?

Then add an apostrophe and an s, unless the extra s creates an awkward pronunciation:

The car of John Jones
John Jones’s car

The Mazarati of Maria Valdez
Maria Valdez’s Mazarati

The poetry of Keats
Keats’s poetry

Moses’ word
Euripedes’ plays


it’s = it is
its = possessive of it (belonging to “it”)

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS its’ !!!!!!!!!!!

And while we’re remembering things, don’t forget to buy my book, Slave Labor: The  New State of American Higher Education! And kindly leave a review at Amazon. 🙂