Forming Possessive Nouns | Grammar Rules & Examples

Learn how to form Possessive Nouns in English with examples.

What Are Possessive Nouns?

A possessive noun is a noun that names who or what owns or has possession of something.

In most cases, for singular nouns to show that possession, we add an apostrophe + s. For plural nouns we simply an apostrophe except for those few plural nouns that do not end in s.

Example:

The car’s front seat

Bartkowski’s book

Babies’ shoes

Lemons’ acidity

Owls’ eyes

Forming Possessive Nouns | Rules

When creating the possessive form of nouns, there are 5 simple rules as follows:

Rule 1: Making singular nouns possessive

  • If a singular noun, add ‘s.

Example:

The girl’s hands were chapped by the cold.

The cat’s toy was missing.

  • Even if the singular noun is a proper noun (i.e. a name), add ‘s.

Example:

Richard’s attempts to solve the problem were rewarded.

  • If names ending in s, you can either add an apostrophe + s, or just an apostrophe. The first option is more common. When pronouncing a possessive name, we add the sound /z/ to the end of the name.

Charles’s car (or Charles’ car)

Chambers’s house (or Chambers’ house)

Chris’s exam (or Chris’ exam)

Rule 2: Making plural nouns possessive

  • If a noun is plural in form and ends in an s, add an apostrophe only.

Example:

The tables’ legs were all wobbly and needed repair.

Cherries’ stones can break your teeth if you are not careful.

People are prepared to pay high prices for designers’ clothes.

  • If a plural noun does not end in s, add ‘s.

Example:

The children’s clothes were brand new.

The prices of men’s shoes run from £30 to £90.

Rule 3: Indicating possession when two nouns are joined together

  • If there is joint possession, use the correct possessive for only the possessive closest to the noun.

Example:

Clinton and Gore’s campaign was successful.

I didn’t come to Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s wedding.

Carol and Susan’ s car is out of gasoline.

Rule 4: Indicating possession when two nouns are joined, and ownership is separate

  • If there is a separate possession of the same noun, use the correct possessive form for each word.

Example:

Susan’s and Beth’s books are full of useful information.

The car’s and the bicycle’s owners could speak French perfectly.

Rule 5: Making hyphenated or compound nouns possessive

  • With hyphenated or compound nouns, use the correct possessive form for the word closest to the noun. Avoid possessives with compound plurals.

Example:

My daughter-in-law’s gift is a diamond necklace.

The English teacher’s method is very effective.

Your neighborhood letter carrier’s job is more difficult than you imagine.

Possessive Nouns in English | Images

Possessive Nouns in English

Forming Possessive Nouns | Grammar Rules & Examples 2

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