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.





Hello David,

I'm afraid none of these sentences are grammatically correct. If you changed 'Mary Jane' to 'Mary and Jane', then 1 would mean she has two daughters (one called 'Mary' and the other called 'Jane'); 2 would mean her one daughter has two first names ('Mary Jane', though really we call the second name a 'middle name', not a first name); 3 would still be incorrect; and 4 would mean she has two daughters -- both of them are called 'Mary Jane' (though really 'Jane' is a 'middle name').

That's rather complicated, but I hope it helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Good morning dear Kirk.
Thank you very much for your explanation.
I just want to know why the 3rd sentence is wrong and also I would like to know what is the correct order of determiners and genitives.
I will appreciate your help.

Hello David,

Sentence 3: 'Her first two daughter's names are Mary Jane.'

'daughter's' refers to one girl, but the sentence mentions two, so it doesn't make sense on this level. Also it should probably say 'Mary and Jane' is they are two different names for two different girls.

In your sentences, there is no problem with word order. If you can explain what the names of the two girls are, I'll be happy to tell you how to express what you mean.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank so much dear Kirk for your help.
What I want to say is that she has one daughter. Her daughter has two or three names but I only want to say the first two which are Mary Jane.

Hello David Araque,

The correct sentence would be as follows:

Her daughter's first two names are Mary and Jane.

We would probably use 'and' here just to make it clear we are listing two names.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much dear Peter.
Merry Christmas.

Hi guys, love the website, many thanks. One question concerning the possessive 's, I don't know how to write (or even say) this sentence grammatically correctly, please help! Are any of these correct?

He wanted his brother's, Tommy's, toy.
He wanted his brother, Tommy's, toy.
He wanted his brother's, Tommy, toy.
He wanted his brother's - Tommy - toy.

Any help would be very much appreciated, thanks!

Hello theluggage,

I would say that there are two ways to say this:


He wanted his brother Tommy's toy.

He wanted his brother's, Tommy's, toy.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


As far as I understand " 's " can be used with the names referring to countries, animals, organisations, and people, however there are some examples which don't follow the rules such as "A fortnight's holiday", or " one of the city's community", and thus I am confused . I would appreciate if you help me through this matter.

Hello bany,

The general rule you mention is correct most of the time, but there are some other cases -- plus a fair amount of inconsistent use -- when 's is also used. For example, we often use it to measure time, so you can see phrases like 'a day's work', 'three hours' delay' or 'a fortnight's holiday'. A similar use is 's with the word 'worth' to measure value: 'ten rials' worth of almonds'.

I'd say that 'one of the city's community' follows the general rule because we can conceive of the city as a kind of organisation or group of people.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team