Proper Nouns

Choosing whether Proper Nouns need Apostrophes

When talking about grammar, the addition of an s to a singular proper name would be awkward to pronounce, so the additional s does not have to be added (it is optional) *after* the apostrophe – for example:

If Mrs Jones owns a handbag, you can say:

“This is Mrs Jones’ handbag.”


Mrs Jones’s handbag

but never Mrs Jone’s handbag (unless the surname is Jone)


Proper Noun – plural

Mr & Mrs Hess bought the house next door.

The Hess’ [more than one Hess, plural] have invited us to their house-warming party!

The three Ross brothers all play football.

The Ross’ [more than one Ross, plural] are well-known in our community.

I know this can all sound a bit tricky, but if you have to work this out, try to remember the basic rules about apostrophes, plurals and possession, and you should be just fine.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this info on proper nouns with apostrophes.

4 Responses to Proper Nouns

  1. Catherine says:

    Can you please clarify something for me. There is a pizza place Angelico. When I write in my email “I order from Angelico”, my boss asked me to put an apostrophe and make it “Angelico’s” so it goes “I order from Angelico’s”. Is he right?

    Thank you.

    • ApostropheQueen says:

      Hey Cat, great question!

      — “I order from Angelico’s!” is correct — it is IMPLYING that the word “pizzeria” or “restaurant” comes after “Angelico’s”, and therefore it is showing OWNERSHIP of the word “pizzeria” or “restaurant”.

      In this case, the word “pizzeria” or “restaurant” is SILENT 🙂

      Hope this helps,
      ciao ciao

  2. Evelyn Davidson says:

    I need some help: which is correct?
    1. the party was at the Adair’s
    2. the party was at the Adairs

    I think it is the first one but want to be sure

    • ApostropheQueen says:

      Hi there Evelyn,

      Great question!

      First of all, we need to look at the FAMILY NAME — is it “Adair” or “Adairs”?

      For example, if it was Johh Adairs and his family, the apostrophe would go AFTER the “s”, as in:

      “The party was at the Adairs’ — they have a lovely home!”

      If the FAMILY NAME was ADAIR, the example would be:

      “The party was at the Adair’s new home — it’s lovely!”, which can also be written as, “The party was at the Adair’s.”

      So an easy way to remember is:
      — if the surname ENDS with “S”, the apostrophe comes AFTER the “s”
      — if the surname DOES NOT END with “S”, the apostrophe comes BEFORE the “s”.

      I do hope this helps.

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