One of the more confusing aspects of the English language seems to be the Possessive Apostrophe. That little bitty mark which indicates ownership.
Of course, if the rules were consistent, I’m sure it would be so much easier, but as always there are exceptions and quirks to be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of these shall we?
With a Singular Noun
Generally the possessive apostrophe precedes the “s” for a singular noun.
This is Robert’s inflatable pony.
It’s entirely the dog’s fault!
That’s my brother’s tragic attempt at woodwork.
With a Plural Noun
When you’re referring to plural noun (that is, a group of items or people), you need to make the word a plural first (eg. monkey to monkeys) then add the apostrophe after the “s” to indicate ownership.
I’m going to the Ladies’ room to power my nose.
The lions’ enclosure is just past the first-aid station.
The Baldwins’ career path is one they should reconsider. (Seriously, their acting is terrible!)
So far, so good.
But what do you do if you’re referring to the Jones family? Do you put an apostrophe at the end? Add another “s”? Refuse to have anything to do with them so you can avoid the whole conundrum in the first place?
With a Plural Noun Ending in “S”
Generally, you would apply the same rules as discussed above. If you’re talking about something belonging to James (singular), you would add a possessive apostrophe after the noun and before the “s”.
That’s James’s car.
When you’re referring to the something owned by the Jones family (plural), again, you would apply the above rules. Make the name a plural before adding the apostrophe to the end.
That’s the Joneses’ house.
Of course, there are some people who prefer to simply put a possessive apostrophe at the end of a noun ending in “s” and leave it at that.
That’s James’ car
That’s the Jones’ house.
Unfortunately, there really doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rules on the correct use of the possessive apostrophe with nouns ending in “s”, so either way is usually accepted. Your best bet is to spell it, as you would say it in conversation.
Next week I’ll take us through Possessive Nouns which don’t use a Possessive Apostrophe.
Just when you thought you had it sorted!