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Possessive Nouns

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In these lessons, we will learn
  • how to use possessive nouns
  • the rules for forming possessive nouns
  • possessive singular nouns and possessive plural nouns
The following diagram gives some general rules for possessive nouns. Scroll down the page for more examples and rules.

Possessive Nouns

What are Possessive Nouns?

Possessive nouns are nouns that show “relationships”

1. Possessive nouns can be used to show 'belonging to' or 'ownership'.


This is Jill’s house. (Jill owns the house)
They were not able to find Paul’s shoes. (The shoes belong to Paul)
The cat’s dish is empty.
The lamp's base is broken.

2. Possessive nouns can show where someone works or studies or spends time.


I went to Jack’s school.
Put this box in Colin’s office.

3. Possessive nouns can indicate family relationships.


Gordon’s mother is a dentist.
He went with Brian’s brother.

General Rules for Forming Possessive Nouns

Rule 1:

Add an apostrophe s (‘s) to form the possessive of singular nouns. This rule also applies to singular nouns ending in s.


Singular Nouns Possessive Nouns
lamp lamp’s
egg egg’s
branch branch’s
mango mango’s
Paul Paul’s
Simon Simon’s
goose goose’s
woman woman’s
leaf leaf’s
lady lady’s
bus bus’s
class class’s

Rule 2:

Add an apostrophe s (‘s) to form the possessive of plural nouns that do not end with s.

Plural Nouns Possessive Nouns
geese geese’s
oxen oxen’s
women women’s
children children’s

Rule 3:

Add an apostrophe () to form the possessive of plural nouns that end with s.

Plural Nouns Possessive Nouns
lamps lamps’
eggs eggs’
branches branches’
mangoes mangoes’
leaves leaves’
ladies ladies’
buses buses’
classes classes’

Rule 4:

For the names of people that end with s, add an apostrophe s (‘s) or apostrophe (). (Both methods are acceptable)

Names of People that ends with s Possessive Nouns
Phyllis Phyllis’s or Phyllis’
Thomas Thomas’s or Thomas’
Jones Jones’s or Jones’

Rule 5:

Add an apostrophe s (‘s) or apostrophe (‘) to the end of a compound noun.

Compound Noun Possessive Noun
classroom classroom’s
classrooms classrooms’
fire engine fire engine’s
fire engines fire engines’
son-in-law son-in-law’s
son-in-laws son-in-laws’
The position of the apostrophe in a noun (to indicate possession of something) often causes problems for learners. The following video explains the rules for singular and plural possessive nouns. Possessive Nouns for Kids
Captain Cluck explains apostrophe 'S.' Possessive Nouns. Possessive Singular Nouns and Possessive Plural Nouns
Separate and Joint ownership. Grammar Tips: Possessive Noun
Here's how to use the apostrophe to make nouns possessive. It's really not difficult once you memorize the few simple rules in this video. This video shows how to use possessive nouns - singular and plural.

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