Possessive Nouns with Apostrophes

Using possessive nouns with apostrophes can be a little bit tricky to work out.

Sometimes words appear to be in the possessive case but there is no real ownership, such as:

  1. month’s pay  [“month” is singular, so apostrophe comes before the “s”]
  2. two days’ washing [“days” is plural, so apostrophe comes after the “s”]
  3. yesterday’s appointments [“yesterday” is singular, so apostrophe comes before the “s”]
  4. last year’s bank statements  [“year” is singular, so apostrophe comes before the “s”]
  5. two years’ receipts [“years” is plural, so apostrophe comes after the “s”]
  6. girls’ underwear [“girls” is plural, so apostrophe comes after the “s”]

Although it looks like there is ownership, it is really called “False Possessive”, and yes an apostrophe IS required in these instances.

NOTE:

  • You put the apostrophe after the *s* when the word is plural, as in examples above – Items 2, 5 + 6.

Just remember, not everyone knows how to do this apostrophe thing … even I have to stop and think sometimes, to make sure I get it right. There’s nothing wrong with looking it up online … don’t forget to come to the Humble Apostrophe if you’re not sure where to put your apostrophe, punctuation or parts of speech!  🙂

Thanks for dropping by the Possessive Nouns with Apostrophes page – let me know if you have any questions or tips.

2 Responses to Possessive Nouns with Apostrophes

  1. I am confused. Other websites seem to claim that it is incorrect to use an apostrophe with false possessives.
    Here’s an example from another website:
    (a) Did you mail the homeowner’s insurance policy?
    (b) We now offer homeowners insurance.
    In the first sentence, we’re talking about one insurance policy that belongs to one homeowner. It’s possessive, so homeowner’s needs an apostrophe.
    In the second sentence, we’re talking about the type of insurance the firm is now offering. Homeowners is a descriptive word—an adjective—so it doesn’t need an apostrophe.

    • ApostropheQueen says:

      Hi Paul, thanks so much for dropping by. In the example you share, that particular website owner wrote according to the way they’ve been taught.

      Across the world there are so many rules, and it appears that grammar depends on schooling, country, county, state, etc. As you know from my site, I am Australian so my teaching is different from other countries.

      Each to their own 🙂

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