Apostrophe S or S Apostrophe? When to use ‘S and S’

We use the apostrophe before the “s” when the noun is singular and we use the apostrophe after the “s” when the noun is plural and ends in s.

The boy’s dog is fine.

The boys’ dog is fine.

In the first example, there is one boy and in the second example, there is more than one boy.

It is important to note that many people have difficulty with this because boys(plural), boy’s(singular possessive), and boys’(plural possessive) all sound the same in spoken English.

What are the rules for apostrophe s and s apostrophe?

The main rule is that you should place an apostrophe before an s for a singular noun to show possession and use an s after an apostrophe when the noun is plural and ends in s.

We add s to a word in English to make that word plural and apostrophe s to show possession.

Singular nouns

When the noun is singular and we want to show that that noun owns something we add apostrophe s.

That is the cat’s toy. 

We add the apostrophe s to show that the cat(singular) owns the toy.  

Plural nouns that end in s

When the noun is already plural and ends in s then we place the apostrophe after the s. 

That is the cats’ toy. 

In this example, we are talking about more than one cat. 

Irregular plural nouns

Some nouns are irregular in English and do not end in s like children, men, and women. For these examples, we add an apostrophe s to show possession.

This is the men’s room.

We need more women’s shoes. 

It is important to note that mens’ or womens’ are incorrect and should not be used as the words mens and womens do not exist.

If there is one man, then it is man’s, and more than one man, we use men’s.

What are the 3 uses of apostrophes?

We use an apostrophe to show possession, for contractions, and as plurals for letters, numbers, and symbols. 

   1. To show possession

We use an apostrophe to show that someone owns something. You place the apostrophe before the s for singular nouns and after the s for plural nouns that end in s.


This is my friend’s car.

That is Jessica’s house. 

    2. For contractions

We also use the apostrophe to show that we have omitted a letter or several letters in a word.


They’ve taken the trash downstairs.

We’ll do the dishes.

What’s the point of it all. 

In the examples above “they’ve” is the short form of “they have”, “we’ll” is “we will” and “What’s” is “What is”.

People often use contractions in spoken language because it is easier to say “what’s” than it is to say ”what is”

   3. The plural of numbers, letters, and symbols

We don’t usually use an apostrophe for plurals but we do for numbers, letters, and symbols.


You need to cross your i’s and dot your t’s

The team is all at 6’s and 7’s.

There are two types of  @’s available to use. 

What are Singular and Plural Possessives?

Singular and plural possessives are just the names of nouns that also show possession by using an apostrophe.

A singular possessive is a noun that is singular and uses apostrophe s like “John’s”. A plural possessive is a noun that is plural and uses apostrophe s like men’s or s apostrophe like boys’. 

Do I add apostrophe s after s? 

Yes, you should add an apostrophe after s when the word already ends in s like regular plural nouns.

The childrens’ bedroom needs some work.

In this case, we are talking about multiple children. 

Apostrophe s with first names(Chris,James)

With proper nouns like Chris and James, you can choose either to use s’ or ‘s. The difference comes down to English style guides. When you follow the rules of The Associated Press Stylebook, Chris’ is proper. With all other style guides, Chris’s is correct.

I need to talk to Chris’s mom.

I need to talk to Chris’ mom.

Apostrophe s with last names 

Take for example the last name Smith. “Smith’s” is the singular possessive of the name “Smith”. The plural possessive of the name Smith is Smiths’.  The plural possessive is used when we want to talk about something The Smith family own such as “The smiths’ house”.

What is the purpose of an apostrophe in a contraction?

The reason why we use an apostrophe in a contraction is to show that there are missing letters that should be there if the word was not made into a contraction. 

I’m late for work.

In the example above, the “a” in “am” has been omitted and the way that we show this in writing is by using an apostrophe.

S’ or s’s?

This debate usually comes up with proper nouns that already end in s. With first names, you can use either s’ or s’s. It is just a matter of which style guide you follow. 

10 Example sentences with apostrophes

This is Conor’s phone. What are you doing with it?

You need to give back the boy’s keys.

This is the government’s plan to fix price gouging. 

The football team’s mascot is an orange.

They’ve eaten all of the chocolate. 

There’s much more to come.

What’s the point in going to Johnny’s place?

We’ll see him again tomorrow.

I got 6 A’s in my leaving certificate exam. 

I amn’t going there anymore,