Grammar: Plural Possessives

Lesson 25: Plural Possessives


Plural possessives

Exorcise bad grammar from your life by learning about plural possession…

Singular vs. plural possession

An apostrophe ( ’ ) is a way to indicate possession. If you have one subject, then this is called singular possession. The apostrophe (almost always) goes before the s added onto the subject. 

  • Example: The dog’s coat is very long and needs to be brushed.

But what if more than one subject possesses something? Then this is considered plural possession. If you have a plural subject with an s on the end, then the apostrophe typically moves to the end of the word, after the s.

  • Example 1: The dogs’ barking is driving me crazy! Can you call those three inside the house?
  • Example 2: The sisters’ friends always said that these two siblings had opposite personalities.

Two exceptions to the rule

#1. It’s different if there’s a compound subject–meaning that there are two elements which make up the subject. In this case, the apostrophe stays before the s, and only the last element in the subject gets an ’s added onto the end.

  • Example: Clara and Molly’s friend will be joining us at the movie theater.

#2. In addition, if a subject is already a plural word in and of itself, then the apostrophe stays before the s.  

  • Example 1: The children’s books are located at the front of the store.
  • Example 2: The sheep’s apples are behind the shed; make sure you bring enough out to feed all of them!

Directions: For the practice quiz, choose the word which has the apostrophe in the correct place.