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Apostrophes (To Show Plural Possession) 01
The writers' pens. Use an apostrophe in this way to denote pens belonging to more than one writer.

Apostrophes (To Show Plural Possession) 01

When an item belongs to more than one person, an apostrophe is used to show plural possession. What's the difference between boy's and boys'? Or fox's and foxes'? "Boy" and "fox" are singular nouns, so "boy's" would be the possessive for one boy and "fox's" would be the possessive for a single fox. By contrast, "boys" and "foxes" are plural nouns and these are their plurals: boys' and foxes'. Can you spot the difference between singular and plural possessives? A den inhabited by one fox would be a fox's den, while one with multiple inhabitants would be the foxes' den. As you know, making a singular noun possessive requires the addition of an apostrophe plus an -s. And as you might have spotted, making a plural noun possessive can be as simple as adding an apostrophe at the end of the word.

But is that really all there is to it? Which of these two would be correct: children's or childrens'? If you choose "children's", you would be right. Although the word does not end in an -s, "children" is a plural noun. In this case, the word follows the same rule as a singular noun and takes an apostrophe plus an -s. So the following are correct: geese's, mice's, sheep's, feet's, teeth's, etc. The geese's feathers were coated in oil; the mice's fur was white; the sheep's field was full of lush grass; her feet's odour was atrocious; his teeth's brilliance was blinding.

Practise your apostrophe skills by playing the following quiz!

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1.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
The keyboards of several computers.
The computer's keyboards
The computers' keyboards
The computers keyboard's
The computers keyboards'
The plural "computers" ends in an -s, so only needs a final apostrophe to become possessive
2.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
The roots of several trees.
The tree's roots
The trees' roots
The trees root's
The trees roots'
The plural "trees" ends in an -s already, so only needs a final apostrophe to make it possessive
3.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
The handles of several doors.
The door's handles
The doors' handles
The doors handle's
The doors handles'
The possessive here is "doors'". If "handles" were also possessive, a sentence might look like this: "All the doors' handles' former shine had worn away". It would be more likely to say, "All the door handles' former shine had worn away", however
4.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
The singing of several performers.
The performers singing
The performer's singing
The performers' singing
The performers singing'
The plural "performers" already ends in an -s
5.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
Pens belonging to several writers.
The writer's pens
The writers' pens
The writers pen's
The writers pens'
Remember that "pens" is not possessive here, so does not need any apostrophe. The "pen's cap" would be an example of a possessive
6.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
The keys of several cars.
The car's keys
The cars' keys
The cars key's
The cars keys'
Remember, the "car's keys" refers to the keys of a single car
7.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
Corners belonging to several tables.
The table's corners
The tables' corners
The tables corner's
The tables corners'
"Corners" are not possessive here, so do not take an apostrophe
8.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
Letters belonging to several parents.
The parents letters
The parent's letters
The parents' letters
The parents letter's
The plural "parents" already ends in an -s, so only needs an apostrophe to follow
9.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
Chocolate belonging to several girls.
The girls chocolate
The girl's chocolate
The girls' chocolate
The girls chocolate'
"Girls" is a plural ending in -s, so only needs a final apostrophe
10.
Find the correct answer for the following phrase.
Books belonging to several teachers.
The teachers books
The teacher's books
The teachers' books
The teachers book's
The plural "teachers" takes a single apostrophe at the end to make the word possessive

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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