How do I form possessive nouns, and where does the apostrophe go?
English uses an apostrophe (') and S to show possessive nouns:
For singular nouns, form the possessive by adding an apostrophe followed by an S.
John's book. Mary's desk. The cat's ball.
For plural nouns ending in S, the apostrophe comes after the S:
The students' classes. The dogs' barks. The parents' concerns.
For plural nouns that don't end in S, use an apostrophe followed by an S:
The women's purses. The men's wallets. The oxen's yoke.
Most singular nouns that end in S take an apostrophe followed by an S to show possession. Exceptions are some ancient or biblical names and a few other words that don't add an extra pronounced syllable in the possessive:
Tess's cat. Jess's dog. James's ferret.
But: Jesus' disciples. Moses' brother. For goodness' sake.
For compound nouns that possess the same thing jointly, place the apostrophe and S after the second noun:
Dick and Jane's dog was named Spot. (This refers to one dog.)
If the individuals own individual things, place an apostrophe and S after each owner:
Dick's and Jane's dogs were both named Spot. (This refers to two different dogs.)
Don't use an apostrophe to indicate plural nouns! Click here for the rules on forming plural nouns.