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Possessives: nouns

Level: beginner

We add 's to singular nouns to show possession:

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

We add ' to plural nouns ending in -s:

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

But we use 's with irregular plural nouns:

men women children people

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

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

Is that John's car?
     No, it's Mary's. (NOT No, it's Mary's [car].)

Whose coat is this?
     It's my wife's.
 (NOT It's my wife's [coat].)

Possessives: nouns 1


Possessives: nouns 2




Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

I'm afraid your question is still not clear to me.  The choice of 's or s' is not dependent on the second noun; it is dependent on the first noun (the one with the apostrophe) and whether this noun is singular or plural; ends in an -s or not; and is a proper noun (i.e. a name) or not.  All these rules are set out in my earlier reply - please take another look at these.  The second noun does not affect the apostrophe.

If I've misunderstood your question then please reply but try to include a concrete example as this will make it easier to understand what exactly you are asking about.  However, I cannot see at the moment any way in which the second noun affects the apostrophe on the first noun.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

I think that the question is about when two or more people own something. For example, my friends Mary and Jhon buys a car. Should I say "Mary and John's car, Mary's and John car or Mary's and John's car? I have the same doubt.

Thanks again!


Hi chfurlan,

Generally speaking, for a case such as this one in which two people own a single car together,  'Mary and John's car' (or 'John and Mary's car') is used.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

sir,in sentence ''how many people live next door''.my question is what is mean of ''next door''.
sir, i want to know ,we use s' with plural noun. when this plural noun possession on the next noun.and 's with plural noun .when this noun does not properly possession on the next reason is true or not.

  1. those are ladies' shoes
  2. these are men's shoes.
  3. sir, i can use in 1 sentence 's in place of s'.

Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

The phrase 'next door' refers to the place which is beside where you are - the next in a row or line.  This could be a house or flat ('next door' would be your neighbour's place), or it could be the next office in a building, or next classroom in a school.  We use the phrase to describe places where we live or work but not other things like cars.

Sentences 1 and 2 are correct.

1 - With a plural noun the apostrophe follows the s and we do not add another s after the apostrophe.  For example:

the ladies -> the ladies' coats

tomatoes -> the tomatoes' skins

2 - With plural nouns which do not end in s we add an apostrophe s, as you have.  For example:

the men -> the men's coats

the children -> the children's parents

3 - No, the apostrophe must follow the s in this case.

It is possible to use 's with singular proper nouns which end in s, such as Chris, James and Paris.  Here we have two choices for the possessive:

Chris -> Chris' coat or Chris's coat

James -> James' coat or James's coat

Paris -> Paris' restaurants or Paris's restuarants]

Both alternatives are correct; the choice is up to the writer.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I understand my problem properly from the above solution.
thank you peter.

dear sir, i notice that you could not give answer in paragraph portion after the first line in my comment.thank

Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean - as far as I can see, I answered your question fully.  However, perhaps I didn't understand it correctly.  If there is something else you would like to know, please ask again in a reply and I'll be happy to answer.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hello i want to thanks in the first time and ask you if this sentence is correct
"this is my friends' feast"

Hello redouane01,

Yes, that sentence is correct.  It means that the feast is organised by (or for) more than one friend; if you want to talk about only one friend then the apostrophe would be before the 's':

This is my friends' feast = several friends

This is my friend's feast - one friend

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team