In the English language, possessives show ownership. Some possessives use apostrophes while others do not. While it is easy to become confused when constructing possessives, there are several grammar rules that can help you understand how to use possessives correctly.
A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A singular noun is a noun that is one in number. For singular nouns, show possession by adding an apostrophe and an "s." For example: "The dress's hem is too short." In this case, the dress possesses the hem. Another example is "I couldn't avoid the waterfall's mist." Here, the waterfall possesses the mist.
Plural Nouns Not Ending in S
A plural noun is a noun that is more than one in number. For plural nouns not ending in "s," show possession by adding an apostrophe and an "s." Take, for example, "The children's play is this afternoon." In this example, the children possess the play. Another example is "The men's lunches were packed the night before." In this example, the men possess their lunches.
Plural Nouns Ending in S
For plural nouns ending in s, show possession by adding an apostrophe only. For example: "The boys' laughter echoed through the hallway." Here, the boys possess the laughter. Another example is "The foxes' den was hidden in the dense woods." In this case, the foxes possess the den.
A pronoun takes the place of a noun in a sentence. Possessive pronouns are pronouns showing possession. For possessive pronouns, do not use apostophes at all. For example: "Your mother is taking you out to dinner." Here, you possess your mother. Another example is "The baby bird was stuck in its nest." In this case, it possesses the nest.
Based in Missoula, Montana, Erin Fuller has been teaching since 2003 and writing professionally since 2010. Fuller writes for eHow and Answerbag, specializing in articles on writing and education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Montana and a Master of Education in instructional and curricular studies from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.