possessives: nouns


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.



Possessive nouns are interesting. Now what happens when something belongs to a service, like say Public Administration.
1.The vehicle belongs to the Public Administration department.
2. The Public Administration's vehicle is having mechanical problems.
Please comment

Hello Githuga,

The first sentence is the more natural was to phrase this, using 'Public Administration' as an adjective rather than a proper noun.

I would rephrase the second sentence as follows:

The Public Administration Department's vehicle is having mechanical problems.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Does this rule apply to animate possessors other than human beings or is it only a matter of personification?
Than you in advance.

Hello solitude,

The rule applies to animate possessors, whether human or animal, and 's can also be used with countries and organisations. If you have any specific examples you want to ask us about, feel free.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

From the two phrases below, what is the proper way to say that someone is documenting something? Is this follows the rule of possesion mentionned above too? There is not subject on the sentence as it is only part of a bullet list

Documentation of applications and procedures vs Applications and procedures documentation


Hello MayelaM,

Both of those are fine. The first one suggests what someone might do (e.g. it could be a job responsibility), while the second seems to describe some kind of forms or paperwork (e.g. a kind of documentation).

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I don't understand the use of 's here. What does this mean?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi attemps to nutmeg Manchester United's James Milner

Hello Dwishiren,

Leo Messi plays football for the Fútbol Club Barcelona (one of the two professional teams in Barcelona) and James Milner plays for Manchester United.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

What is the correct way to say it?

the candidate's CV vs the CV of the candidate

the voices' tone are similar vs the tone of the voices are similar


Hello MayelaM,

Both are correct. The first is more common in everyday English; the second sounds a little more formal. In the second pair of sentences you should say 'tones' rather than 'tone'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team