We use a noun with ’s with a singular noun to show possession:

We are having a party at John’s house.
Michael drove his friend’s car.

We use s’ with a plural noun ending in -s:

This is my parents’ house.
Those are ladies’ shoes.

But we use ’s with other plural nouns:

These are men’s shoes.
Children’s clothes are very expensive.

We can use a possessive instead of a noun phrase to avoid repeating words:

 

Is that John’s car?   No, it’s Mary’s [car]. > No, it’s Mary’s.
Whose coat is this?   It’s my wife’s [coat]. > It’s my wife’s.

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi sir, could the 's be used for inanimate objects?
Ex: Wonderland's owner, he is the land's owner, she is the phone's owner, the factory's owner.

do these are grammatical correct?

Hello Alice88,

It's possible but in these and many other cases it would sound a bit strange to use the 's with inanimate objects; a phrase with 'of' or a compound noun could be used. We get a lot of questions that are similar to yours, so you might find it useful to read through other users' questions and our answers below on this page, where I think you'll find relevant material. Notice that there are several pages of questions and answers to read through - I'd suggest going to at least page 2 or 3 to get a good sense. If that doesn't help you and you still have another question, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello

In these examples about possessives nouns, references to people are done, but... what about animals, or things?

What of these are the correct expressions?

* The case of the phone
* The phone's case
* The food of the dog
* The dog's food

Thanks!!

Hello Ryutaro,

Both prepositional phrases with 'of' (e.g. the case of the phone) and apostrophe s (e.g. the phone's case) can be used with inanimate objects, but in the two specific cases you ask about, a compound noun is really the only word that people actually use: 'phone case' and 'dog food'. This is very common - a good dictionary will be a big help in looking for such things.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk

Thanks for the clarification. Now, let me see if I understood, When we talk about inanimate objects like a phone, both structures (with "of" and apostrophe s) are accepted, but... what about animals?. Another question, is a compound noun the most accepted way to form possessives for animals and things?

Hello again Ryutaro,

This is a tricky area, because there's a lot of variation and there aren't always compound nouns that can be used. So whatever I say should be taken as a general rule; I'm afraid there's no easy rule that will cover all cases.

In general, with people, and to some degree, animals or groups of people (e.g. 'the audience'), the apostrophe s form is preferred. There are certainly exceptions to this, though as far as I know there is no easy rule to describe them, so you could see the prepositional phrase with 'of' as well. With inanimate objects, both forms can be used, but I'd say the prepositional phrase is more common.

There are, however, loads of compound nouns in English that are used more often than either form when appropriate. 'Phone case' and 'dog food' are examples of these. 

When in doubt, I'd suggest looking up words in the Cambridge Dictionary to see if you can find them. For example, if you look up 'dog', you'll see 'dog food' in one of the examples. It won't always be this easy - 'phone case' doesn't appear in the entry for 'case', though 'pencil case' does - but you can learn a lot this way.

I hope this helps!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team 

Above example[ "That's my friend's house." How many people live there? ]. In this why "more than one" can not be the correct ans? That's my friend's house but in a house more than one person may be live.I know 's can be used with a singular noun only.

Hello The_Unknown,

The exercise is testing the grammar that's explained above it, which indicates that 'friend's house' clearly refers to this friend being one person. So that is why the answer is 'One'.

As you rightly point out, however, it could be that your friend owns the house but other people also live there. In that case, 'More than one' could be correct. For the purposes of this page, however, I think the best answer is 'One', since it is, after all, testing the grammar presented here.

Thanks for pointing this out to us – I'll add it to our list of future improvements.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Would someone please explain to me which are those exceptions about the use of 's when there's no a person or animal?

Thanks a lot.

Your sentence 's is not possessive form 's I think it is contraction form of is.

Pages