Grammar Confusing Possessives |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Confusing Possessives

The Chicago Manual of Style lists the following holidays as singular possessives: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. Plural possessive is used for Presidents’ Day.

Your guess is as good as anyone’s about Secretary’s vs. Secretaries’ vs. Secretaries Day and Boss’s vs. Bosses’ vs. Bosses Day.

What would you do if we had a Children’s Day holiday? Because Children is an irregular plural (not formed by adding an s or es), you would have to use the apostrophe in the title because there is no such word as Childrens.

Example: Children’s Hospital

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

256 responses to “Confusing Possessives”

  1. Susan Hackett says:

    This could be mother’s club if my mother had a club of her own.

    • Carol Wellington says:

      If it is a club for all mothers, it should be Mothers’ Club, shouldn’t it?

      • The name for a club for all mothers could be written “Mothers’ Club.” Susan did not say that it was specifically a club for mothers. She said it was her mother’s club. In a parallel manner to what we note for Secretaries Day and Bosses Day, a club consisting of mothers isn’t necessarily one owned by mothers. You may note that the nation’s Veterans Administration has no apostrophes. So there is some justification for just “mothers club.”

        • Teresa Keen says:

          We are naming a concession stand in honor of two ladies (sisters) who worked there and were both affectionately referred to as Granny. It will be named Granny’s Kitchen, however, since it should be plural in honor of both, shouldn’t it be Grannies’ Kitchen? Please confirm for me before we invest in a new sign.

  2. Scott says:

    Thank you so much for this blog and the grammar website. When I started posting on our blog site, I realized how much grammar I had forgotten. (Did use that comma properly? No, seriously, did I? You have ruined my life but in a good way! Thanks so much.

  3. Jane says:

    Susan, you are correct.
    Scott, happy to have ruined your life in a good way. Yes, you used the comma properly!

  4. Jo Ann says:

    Where does the apostrophe go when proper names end in s? Dennis’s stepmother, Peggy. Or should it be Dennis’ stepmother, Peggy.

  5. Jane says:

    If you look at the Apostrophe section of, you’ll see that “Dennis’s stepmother” would be the preferred answer.

  6. Mandy says:

    I am cataloguing a collection of uniforms. One may have belonged to a particular person, another is a stock example. I must head each entry with an object name. After reading your section on the apostrophy, I think each entry should be “Woman’s Uniform”. Is using the singular form correct, even though the uniform applies to the dress of all women in the service?

  7. April says:

    Alright, I just finished reading the latest email from you which informed me that class (singular) would be class’s in the possessive. For example: The Spanish class’s grades were exemplary. That is to say that a single Spanish class has good grades. Now in the paragraph about the club for Moms, I see ‘Mothers’ Club’ with no ‘s’ after the apostrophe. What is the difference? Is it that mother doesn’t already end in ‘s’?

  8. Jane says:

    Mandy, I would still use “Women’s Uniforms.” (But I am not an expert on cataloging.)
    April, Yes, it’s “Mothers’ Club” without another “s” because “Mother” does not have an “s” in it. The rule, which you will find in the apostrophe section of, is actually simple:
    Use the apostrophe and then the “s” for singular possession.
    For plural possession, form the plural of the word first, then use the apostrophe. If the word does not form a plural by adding an “s,” such as “women,” then after you add the apostrophe, you will also need to add an “s.”
    Examples: one mother’s children v. two mothers’ children
    one woman’s children v. two women’s children

  9. ravi bedi says:

    Officer’s mess or the officers’ mess. Lovers’ Rock or the Lover’s rock? Personally I will use …Officers’ mess. What do you say?

  10. Debbie says:

    Then Mothers Day would be just as correct as Mothers’ Day or Mother’s Day?

  11. Jane says:

    Officers’ mess or officers mess without using the possessive. Definitely not officer’s mess as we don’t mean one officer.
    Lovers’ Rock for the same reason.

    • I’ve always been told that these are not possessive at all — that “Lovers” is an adjective in this situation. If that is the case, then it cannot be possessive. Nor is it in fact. The lovers in question neither possess nor own the rock. Instead, “lovers” is a description of the type of rock. It is, rather, a rock FOR lovers.

      Therefore, it should simply be “Lovers Rock,” just as we have the department of “Veterans Affairs.”

  12. Jane says:

    Yes. Mothers Day may be written without the possessive. Also, some people think of Mother’s Day as the singular possessive; others argue that we should write Mothers’ Day to show plural possession.

  13. Lindsay says:

    I’m pretty sure the following sentence needs an apostrophe, but I’m not completely confident, because the thing Chicago is possessing comes before–not directly after. What is the rule on this?

    …”Lake Michigan, one of Chicagos most beautiful lakes.”

    And, what is the rule about “of,” if one writes, “the lives of cats and dogs,” an apostrophe is not needed, right?

    Thanks so much for your help.

  14. Jane says:

    Yes, use the apostrophe for: Lake Michigan, one of Chicago’s most beautiful lakes
    No, don’t use the apostrophe for: the lives of cats and dogs

  15. Lindsay says:

    One more little apostrophe question…

    The common phrase “our heart’s desire,” is to my knowledge usually written in this way. But, I’m editing a piece and that phrase is troubling me because the “our” is representing a large group of people. These people all have one “desire” but they have many hearts.

    So is this correct: “our hearts’ desire”?

  16. Jane says:

    It’s okay to say “our heart’s desire” or our hearts’ desires.” I wouldn’t mix the plural possessive with a singular noun following as in “our hearts’ desire.”

  17. Liz Jameson says:

    In the following statement, should community be singular or plural? Some seniors who are unable to visit libraries call to ask about programs and resources offered within the community. Would it matter if it said “their community”? Thanks!

  18. Jane says:

    The sentence would be better this way: Some seniors who are unable to visit libraries call to ask about programs and resources offered within their communities.

  19. Cassie Tuttle says:

    So relieved to hear that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to some of these confusing possessives …. But I’m equally glad that CMOS does give us some guidance. Now I can go ahead and firm up my menu for NEW YEAR’S DAY.

    Thanks, Jane!

  20. Jane says:

    Yes, you can!

  21. Liz Jameson says:

    Which is correct? “The counselor may assess you and your husband’s health insurance coverage.” OR “The couselor may assess your and your husband’s health insurance coverage”? I think it’s “your” because this sentence refers to two different coverage plans for two individuals. It makes sense to me that if I were talking about the couple’s joint home insurance, I would then say “you and your husband’s coverage.” Am I correct? Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      Corrrect: The counselor may assess your and your husband’s health insurance coverage.
      Even if this were only one coverage rather than separate ones, it would be confusing to write, “The counselor may assess you…” To be very clear that separate coverages are being assessed, you may want to write, “The counselor may assess your health insurance coverage as well as your husband’s.

  22. Lauren says:

    Which possessive prounoun should be used:
    He touched mine/my and Ruby’s hands.
    You wouldn’t want to say Our, if you wanted to be specific about the other person. Neither sounds correct. Help!

  23. Jane says:

    Since you and Ruby don’t co-own hands, it’s better to write, “He touched my hand and Ruby’s hand.”

  24. Rodney says:

    Jane, I think you are wrong about the woman’s uniform question. I am an archivist and catalog things every day. I think a catalog description should describe ONE item, even if you have multiple copies of the item. Otherwise it might be supposed the items go together. For example, you would catalog A PAIR OF GLOVES, or simply GLOVES, or a set of 4 cards. If it is multiple copies of one card, then it is just CARD, not CARDS. Therefore, it is a WOMAN’S UNIFORM, not WOMEN’S UNIFORMS. If you are indicating quantity in the catalog, then you could say 12 samples of a woman’s uniform. If you said 12 women’s uniforms, it might be supposed there are 12 different women’s uniforms, rather than 12 samples of the same uniform.

  25. Shaun says:

    If you’re interested in putting the apostrophe back in its place you might like this very funny youtube clip and related iPhone app called The Apostrophe Song

  26. Monica says:

    Here’s one: I belong to a group. Historically, it has been called the MoM’s group (Mothers of Munchkins.) I wonder if this should really be Moms’ Group (or MoMs’ group) since it refers to many mothers. What’s your take?

  27. Alice says:

    In India, there is a Children’s Day, which is usually a holiday for schools.

  28. Darryl says:

    I’ve just finished reading some of your lessons on apostrophes; I don’t get it all the way as if, “apostrophes, apostrophe’s or apostrophes’ ” should be used usually when you are talking about more than one thing? For example :

    (1) Apostrophe’s can be hard to learn.
    (2) Apostrophe can be hard to learn.
    (3) Apostrophes’ can be hard to learn.

  29. sarah kwick says:

    I am getting Christmas cards. They are all signed differently. If a person’s last name is Smith, would they sign “Love the Smiths or Love the Smith’s”

  30. wagner says:

    1. Once I asked my ESL Teacher if it was correct to say “It’s a beautiful summer’s day” The answer was no, you can only say summer day, she said. However, if I can go for a walk on a winter’s day (see California Dreaming Song) why can’t I do the same on a summer’s day?

    • Just because a word or phrase appears in a song title does not make it correct. That is sometimes the case with creative writing.

    • Linda says:

      But would you ever say, “I went for a walk on a spring’s day” or ” … on an autumn’s day”? I think the Mamas and the Papas did a great job of messing with the English language here!

  31. Kim says:

    Every time we see you our heart’s fill with pride.
    Is this the proper way to write it?

  32. Nicki says:

    Thanks! My aim is to be a writer, but people always act like if I want to write a book I should already know everything about literature. I looked forever on the appropriate use of an apostrophe after a name that ends with ‘s’, but got sick of the complicated answers that said absolutely nothing. So thank you very much for putting up a simple answer with examples anyone could understand.

  33. Jac says:

    Kenzies Mom
    Kenzie’s Mom or Kenzies’ Mom

  34. Hayley says:

    Please could you let me know which is the right way to say secretary in the following:

    If you notice the coffee running low then please let one of the secretaries know so we can order some more.

    Thank you!

  35. BJ says:

    This is actually one of my pet peeves – the misuse of apostrophes! It’s rampant!

    I do have a question, if you could possibly help. I am a transcriptionist, and one of my doctors will say that he will see the patient back “in two weeks time”. Should that be “two weeks’ time” or no apostrophe?

  36. Bennett says:

    I work as the creative director for an electronic greeting card website, and we are perplexed by this question every year when we prep our advertising materials. We usually go with what we see the public most often doing. I guess that is the power and sway of advertising’s tie to public opinion and taste. But then, that is exactly how language changes and grows.

    When I was in school, the plural possessive was uniformly, s’s, ie: Mothers’s (belonging to a group of mothers). But I have observed in the last 20 years the migration by popular use and now touted rule turn to s’ for plural possessive, ie: mothers’

    My final conclusion? English remains one of the most pliable and therefore delightfully confusing languages on Earth!

  37. Bennett says:

    I think I typed in error in my last comment! In school, the plural possessive was not, as I claimed, s’s.. rather that was the practice when someone’s name ended in s, as in, “keeping up with the3 Jones’s pace”. Nowadays, we see the rule for the plural possessive, s’, being applied to singular possessives where the word or name ends with s.

    “Keeping up with the Jones’ pace.” Oh, the horror!

    • Our blog “Apostrophes with Names Ending in s, ch, or z” addresses this in detail. Our rule states, “To show plural possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe.” Therefore, your example should read keeping up with the Joneses’ pace.

      Similarly, our rule for singular possession states, “To show singular possession of a name ending in s, ch, or z, use the apostrophe and another s.” Such an example might be keeping up with Bob Jones’s pace.

  38. Nathalie says:

    I am looking for a specific grammar answer concerning Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession.

    Can an object like a vehicle show possession, i.e. the vehicle’s key code ? Because anywhere I enter that (Word etc…) I receive a typo error and it is showing me I need to write vehicles key code, the things is that there is only one vehicle and the key code belongs to it!

    Thank you and have a great day.

    • The same rules that apply to forming the possessive forms of names also apply to objects. The vehicle’s key code is correct. Spellcheck programs are often incorrect.

  39. Craig says:

    I have a question about the use of an apostrophe with a singular noun. My question is in regard to the International Screenwriter’s Association ( We’ve never had a complaint about the apostrophe s until now. The complaint is that this is not about 1 screenwriter and his or her association, it’s about every screenwriter. We have 60,000 members. Am I incorrect in putting an apostrophe s in the title of the business?

    I really prefer not to keep looking foolish if I’m incorrect. Please help clarify this issue.

    many thanks!

    • Your first sentence is interesting. Are you implying that you interpret the word in your title as a singular noun? If so, then Screenwriter’s is correct. Looking in from the outside, I would assume that the Association is representing all the screenwriters who have joined the organization, thus it is a plural noun and should be written Screenwriters’.

      There is a little room for interpretation, as we demonstrate in our blog on certain holidays, like Mother’s/Mothers’/Mothers Day. That interpretation is up to you and your organization.

  40. Roland says:

    I’m no expert, but I think that the example for rule 7 on your Apostrophes page should be “my two brothers-in-laws’ hats.” At least, that’s how I interpret the rule.

    • This is certainly a tricky one. The singular is my brother-in-law and the singular possessive is my brother-in-law’s hat. The plural of this compound noun is my brothers-in-law (not my brother-in-laws nor my brothers-in-laws). Thus, following the rule of forming the plural first and then using the apostrophe, we get: my brothers-in-law’s hats or my two brothers-in-law’s hats.

  41. Christine says:

    I have a quick question. I am writing up a menu for Seniors for a restaurant and i am so confused as to whether i am supposed to use an apostrophe or not. Is it Seniors’ Menu or Senior’s Menu or just Seniors Menu? And another line in the menu states that “All seniors meals come with coffee or tea.” Does this need an apostrophe as well?
    Please help!

    • If you think of the menu as belonging to the seniors, then you would write Seniors’ Menu. If you think of the word seniors as an adjective describing the word menu, then you would not use an apostrophe. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. “All seniors’/seniors meals come with coffee or tea” should be consistent with how you title the menu.

  42. Tracey says:

    Would an apostrophe be required in this newspaper article title? UPROAR OVER CLAIMS VICTIMS TO BLAME. The article states that someone (in position of authority) has accused a single victim being responsible for a specific crime committed against her because of her behaviour. Should it therefore read UPROAR OVER CLAIMS VICTIM’S TO BLAME?

    • It’s not unusual for newspapers to omit words they consider nonessential in titles in order to save space. If, as you explain, one individual is accusing one victim, then the title could be:
      However, if there are more than one individual accusing more than one victim, or even one individual making different accusations against more than one victim, then the title could be:

  43. Val says:

    In the sentence, “I’m going to grandma’s.” should there be an apostrophe in “grandma’s” if the word “house” is implied but not stated?

    • Yes, as implied words and contractions are common in informal spoken and written English. Also, Rule 1 in our blog Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? says, “Capitalize a kinship name when it immediately precedes a personal name or is used alone, in place of a personal name.” A formal, grammatically correct sentence could be written “I am going to Grandma’s house.” Or, informally, “I am going to Grandma’s.”

  44. Jennifer says:

    As related to “Grandma’s house” and the Christmas card–how does one properly make a sign for outside their home? Is it the home of The Smiths who live inside, or is it The Smiths’ (as in the unspoken house that would follow?) Most of the time you see The Smith’s on a sign, which is definitely incorrect and always makes my skin crawl.

    • I interpret that kind of sign to read “The Smiths live here.” It does not need an apostrophe. An argument could be made for “The Smiths’ house,” in which case the apostrophe would come at the end. You are correct that “The Smith’s” is incorrect.

  45. John says:

    The new year doesn’t possess the day or the evening before anymore than say Christmas does. (Merry Christmas’s Eve?), So pedantically speaking it’s “New Year Day” and “New Year Eve”.

    • If you consult any dictionary you will find that it is always written “New Year’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” with an apostrophe. Likewise, “Christmas Day,” and “Christmas Eve” are grammatically correct. Why this is so is a question for a language historian.

  46. Gloria says:

    Is it correct when I type “Heard all about my children’s day”?

    • Assuming you are referring to more than one child, your spelling of the possessive form children’s is correct. You just need a subject to make a complete sentence: “I heard all about my children’s day.”

  47. Bob B. says:

    A number of writers are gathering to start a writing group.

    The title?

    Is it a Writers’ Group or a Writers Group?

    Since my days of Greek and the use of the genitive as a possessive case. Transferring this to translating Greek, it was always easiest for me to determine the usage of the apostrophe by mixing the terms up as follows:

    The mascot (noun) of the team (genitive) = the team’s mascot.

    The dolls (noun) of the girl (genitive) = the girl’s dolls.

    The home (noun) of the orphans (genitive) = the orphans’ home.

    The crimes of the cities = the cities’ crimes.

    All over the internet I see Writers Group and not Writers’ Group. Does a title change the practical use of the apostrophe?

    What do you say?

    • We also like using your method of “mixing the terms up” to determine where to place the apostrophe for possessives. In your case, since you’re forming a group of writers (a group belonging to the writers), we also favor Writers’ Group. However, there’s no denying a trend in some circles toward leaving the apostrophe out (see our blog Confusing Possessives). Perhaps the thinking is that writers is used as an adjective describing the word group, thus justifying not using an apostrophe.

  48. Virginia H. says:

    An apostrophe is not required for “teachers union”. What is the rule?

    • From The Chicago Manual of Style:

      The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively—to modify another noun—is sometimes fuzzy, especially in the plural. Although terms such as employees’ cafeteria sometimes appear without an apostrophe, Chicago dispenses with the apostrophe only in proper names (often corporate names) that do not use one or where there is clearly no possessive meaning.

      children’s rights
      farmers’ market
      women’s soccer team
      boys’ clubs
      taxpayers’ associations (or taxpayer associations)
      consumers’ group (or consumer group)


      Publishers Weekly
      Diners Club
      Department of Veterans Affairs

  49. Susan says:

    When writing a note, which way is a proper way to state my appreciation?

    It was a pleasure being both your and your brother’s coach.


    It was a pleasure being both your’s and your brother’s coach.

    • Your first option “It was a pleasure being both your and your brother’s coach” is correct, but a bit awkward. You could write “It was a pleasure being a coach for both you and your brother.” Note that yours never has an apostrophe.

  50. Carissa L. says:

    I’m really perplexed by this sentence by whether or not to use the plural possessive in this sentence: The women must get their spouses’ approval. Since women is plural would I need to include the plural of spouse as well, or would it be “spouse’s”?


  51. Enrique says:

    I recently finished a website for my transportation service for children, but a friend of mine mentioned I shouldn’t have used “Children Transportation Services” on the logo, but “Children’s Transportation Services”. I understand where he’s coming from, but I still think both are correct. Is either one wrong?


  52. Errol says:

    The best rule to follow when you have to use the apostrophe of possession is to write the name of the owner and then place the apostrophe. If there is an “s” sound write the “s” after the apostrophe. If there isn’t another “s” sound after the apostrophe, leave it alone.

    Examples: children’s books ( first write children, then the apostrophe and an s

    Horses’ tails (you don’t hear another s sound so that’s it)

    James’s car. In this case, you hear another s sound so you add the s.

    I have not read all of the above so I hope I haven’t repeated what someone else has already said!

    • Not all words are pronounced the same in all places where English is spoken. What about people who pronounce the s in Illinois? There are many such folks in the Midwest. By your formula, they would simply add an apostrophe where you and I would add an apostrophe-plus-s. We cover this topic more thoroughly in the grammar tip Apostrophes with Words Ending in s.

  53. Errol says:

    Sorry, I don’t see the problem:

    For those who say the “s”

    Illinois’s climate is …..

    For those who don’t say the “s”

    Illinois’ weather is …..

    In this day and age we can’t be too pedantic.

  54. Errol says:


  55. milia says:

    If we write “every moms desire” that make sense?
    Or should i write desire of every mother?

  56. Tarryn says:

    I want to find out what the rule is on ‘going to be a grandma again’ or ‘going to be a dad again’. My understanding is that once you are you are- you can’t be it again if you already are. Unless something happened to the first child and they are no longer around.

    Appreciate your feedback on this.


  57. Carla Haroutunian says:

    Why do we say “New Year’s Eve,” but not “Christmas’s Eve?”

  58. Stuart says:

    I wonder if anyone can help. I’m starting to go into meltdown by thinking about it too much.

    I’m writing a form where I want people to enter the details of their children.
    First is: Your child’s details
    If the parent enters details for three children, should this then be a subtitle of Your Children’s Details or Your Childrens’ Details?
    I assume it is the former, but I’m starting to confuse myself. Advice greatly appreciated.

  59. Tim says:

    Making a sign for a client that is for nursing mothers. We were going to put Mothers Room which is common phrase used for signs but I also see it as Mother’s Room and Mothers’ Room. Advice is greatly appreciated.

    • As stated in our response to Virginia H. of January 26, 2014, The Chicago Manual of Style recommends using an apostrophe, although they acknowledge that terms similar to yours sometimes appear without one. Since the room is for more than one mother, the possessive is spelled “Mothers’ Room.”

  60. Mary says:

    Our community’s most vulnerable children.
    Our communities most vulnerable children.
    I say it’s community’s because it shows posession of the children belonging to the community. What do you think?

  61. Michael says:

    Since there is no such word as “childrens” Should I say Childrens’ Minister OR Children’s Minister. Children’s Minister would imply a minister for one child, right? Is the following correct?
    We have a Childrens’ Minister position available.


    • The word children is plural. The possessive form is children’s. “Child’s minister” implies a minister for one child. Therefore, for more than one child write “children’s minister.” Since the term is used generically in your sentence, no capitalization is necessary.

  62. joel says:

    is the word “praise’s mom” correct?

  63. Stephanie says:

    If you want to say “From our mother’s to yours…” do you need the apostrophe in mothers? Thank you so much in advance!

    • Apostrophes are used to show possession. Your example does not appear to indicate the condition of having or owning anything. Therefore, write the plural noun mothers.

  64. drick says:

    Mary’s father had 5 daughters Nana nene mini and nono who’s the fifth daughter

  65. Virginia Hinkle says:

    I’m wanting to place this phrase on a grave marker but I’m not sure of how to use the correct punctuation.
    “Always In Our Thoughts – Forever In Our Hearts”

    Do I use upper case on each word? Do I use quotation marks? Do I use a comma, semicolon? Do I use a dash?

    Thank you in advance!!

    • There are no punctuation or capitalization rules specifically for grave markers. Since the phrase is not a title or a complete sentence, it seems to us that you have some leeway when it comes to capitalization and punctuation. If you consider the words a quotation, use quotation marks. A comma, semicolon, or dash is acceptable, therefore it is your choice. Most people prefer to consider aesthetics or personal taste when making these kinds of decisions.

  66. ru says:

    Thank you for clarifying a lot of my misunderstanding about the apostrophe. However,I still have some doubts about how to use it when there are seemingly two possessive nouns.
    For example, we are going to Dennis’s parents’ house. Seems wrong to have two apostrophe here.

  67. Jane P says:

    Somebody wrote, “You just made children everywhere doubt their mothers’ love for them.” Assuming that these children are not part of two mom households, should it be mother’s love or mothers’ love?

  68. Anne Fox says:

    Is it correct to say she is the stepmother of Tom or should it be she is stepmother to Tom?

  69. James says:

    Is it correct to say, this is John’s grandmother’s car?

  70. Stacey Ragland says:

    My daughter wrote an essay. I’m trying to correct before school. She put my two Great Grandmas died. Should it actually be Great Grandmas’?

    • The term is not a possessive form in your sentence. Our post “Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize?” says, “Do not capitalize a kinship name when it is not part of the personal name but is a word describing the personal name. This usually occurs when the kinship name is preceded by articles such as the, a, or an; or possessive pronouns such as his, her, my, our, your, or their.” Also, it should be hyphenated since the hyphen distinguishes great-grandma from “a grandma who is great.” Therefore, write “My two great-grandmas died.”

  71. Maire says:

    Possessive form

    “Our team’s uniforms are blue and gray this year.” OR

    Our team uniforms are blue and gray this year.”


  72. Sharon says:

    Mother’s have a very special place in our hearts.
    Mothers have a very special place in our hearts.


  73. ANN says:

    Referring to Mothers Club, an earlier post, why use an apostrophe in Mothers at all? The word Mothers defines membership, not ownership. The club neither belongs to one nor multiple mothers, so why an apostrophe? Mothers states that members or mothers, merely members of the club.
    Now, to the original purpose of my quest today, I must punctuate the following statement: “Visit at one of my relatives homes.” The visit will occur at one home. Is that relative’s or relatives’ in defining home?
    Thank you. Now that I’ve re-examined the sentence, it seems probably relative’s would be correct.
    Thank you for your comments.

    • We assume you are talking about a visit to a home owned by one of your relatives and not to one of multiple homes owned by a single relative. Therefore, relatives’ is correct.

  74. Kelly says:

    For the sentence, Members of the group should try to…. should it be Member’s, Members’ or leave it as Members?

    Thank You!

  75. Laura says:

    All throughout these comments, I note sentences ending with quotation marks and then a period.
    Example: He said, “I don’t want to”.

    The period always goes inside the quotation marks.
    Example: He said, “I don’t want to.”

  76. Nicole says:

    Question –
    When saying “Keegan’s and Kirin’s mom” should both names have apostrophes or only the last name listed (Keegan and Kirin’s mom)

  77. Jaezette says:

    I recently stumbled on a question and a, having a hard time… Here it is
    “Are you going to ____ anniversary party?”
    a. dad & mom’s
    b. dad’s & mom’s
    c. dad’s & mom
    d. dad & mom

    I am torn between answering A or B
    Hope you can help

    • Our Rule 4 of Apostrophes says, ” If two people possess the same item, put the apostrophe + s after the second name only.” Also, our post Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? says, “Capitalize a kinship name when it immediately precedes a personal name or is used alone, in place of a personal name.” Therefore, write “Dad and Mom’s.”

      Please note that the first comment was posted in February 2007, and the most recent one was submitted in February 2016.

  78. Pam says:

    How would you write my moms boyfriend’s house correctly?

  79. Gina says:

    Ok so you have three boys and they have a baseball game. You are trying to say you are going to their game what is the best way to write it?

    Going to the boys’ game? And how would you pronounce it? Boyses?

  80. Laurence says:

    I’m struggling with the following: should it be, “…the manner in which members’ of those groups behaviors are perceived” or “…the manner in which members of those groups’ behaviors are perceived”? I believe it should be the former, but I’ve never seen a situation where the word with the apostrophe is separated from what it possesses!

    • In our opinion, the phrase should be rewritten to “the manner in which the behaviors of those groups’ members are perceived.” That eliminates the confusion.

  81. Daisy says:

    Is “One of my daughters’ birthday is in June.” correct?

  82. Su says:

    What punctuation would I use after the following sentence?

    “I hope the hockey camp for your son is going well”

    I think it should be a ? but others say a .


  83. Beth says:

    Thanks for this great website! Which of the following is correct:

    The neighbor of Ann is nice.


    The neighbor of Ann’s is nice.

  84. tania says:

    so how would you say that (mama is boss)? would you write it like this.. mama’s boss or mamas’ boss or simpley mamas boss?

    • Mama is considered a kinship name, therefore it should be capitalized. Please see our post Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? The contraction for “Mama is” is Mama’s. Example: Mama’s happy today. We do not, however, recommend using the contraction with a noun. Writing Mama’s boss could be confused with the possessive term meaning “the boss of Mama.” Writing “Mama is boss” is less likely to cause confusion.

  85. Marlene says:

    In naming a business that provides service to senior citizens (transportation, errands etc) I am so confused regarding plural and apostrophe use. I prefer service vs services. Should it be (catchy name of business ) followed with the descriptor of it as Seniors Service or Seniors’ Service or Senior’s Service or must it be Seniors Services or Senior’s Services , Seniors’ Services or just Senior Service? I cannot decide what’s right, thanks!

    • You mentioned that you prefer service; however, it sounds like the business provides more than one kind of service to seniors.Therefore, you might want to take that into consideration when deciding between service and services. Since the services are not just for one senior, the plural possessive Seniors’ Services is written correctly. Some writers would leave the apostrophe out, with the thought that Seniors is used as an adjective describing the word Services. See our post Apostrophes and False Possessives for more discussion on this topic.

  86. Jasmine says:

    What is correct?
    My school’s uniform is white.
    My school uniform is white.
    Book colour is black.
    Book’s colour is black.
    My school name is beacon house.
    My school’s name is beacon house.

    • We recommend:
      My school uniform is white. (My school’s uniform is white has an awkwardness about it that might imply that the school itself wears a uniform.)
      The book’s color is black.
      My school’s name is Beacon House. (My school name is beacon house might be interpreted by some people to mean that is your name when at school. Names should be capitalized.)

  87. Samantha says:

    If I am having a doormat made for Grandma.
    Would it be Grandmas house or Grandma’s house. Thanks!

  88. Tom says:

    Is this a correct statement or do I need to inset apostrophes in each of the first nine words as well as the 11th one?
    Mums, dads, grans, grandpas, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbours are all welcome to join with us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus in the children’s Christmas Nativity play.
    So confused, some people say no it’s fine while others are adamant that they are needed.

  89. Emily says:

    Is saying Sharon’s parents incorrect and if so how can I fixed it?

  90. Peggy says:

    There is a disagreement regarding this statement in a poem begin written by someone in our household. Is it:

    We shared clothes handmade by our Mom’s

    We shared clothes handmade by our Moms’
    We shared clothes handmade by our Moms

    Thank you

    • A simple plural does not use an apostrophe. Please see our rules for Apostrophes. Also, our Rule 2 of Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not Capitalize says, “Do not capitalize a kinship name when it is not part of the personal name but is a word describing the personal name. This usually occurs when the kinship name is preceded by articles such as the, a, or an; or possessive pronouns such as his, her, my, our, your, or their.” In addition, the sentence needs a period at the end.
      We shared clothes handmade by our moms.

  91. Dave says:

    Think about the American football team the Cleveland Browns. First, is the name singular or plural? Second, how would you say, “that is the reason for the Browns success.” Would it be Browns’ or Browns’s?

    • The name is a plural noun. Our post Apostrophes and Proper Nouns says, “Add only an apostrophe to show possession for a place, business, or organization whose name is a plural noun or ends with a plural noun: the Everglades’ scenery, Beverly Hills’ weather; the Cellars’ wine list, General Mills’ cereals.”

  92. Leticia says:

    Please could you explain me the difference between the sentence “the city center” or “the center of the city”. I am Spanish and don’t really understand when should I use the preposition of or the adjective. I would use “the city center” but when it comes to other examples i dont really know when to use it correctly.
    Would you say “the car’s windows” or “the car windows” / “a car’s window” or “a car window”. I’ve seen both written in many places, but as far as i read cars can be possesives of their pieces, so it should be with “‘s”…. but could i use it as and adjective also….. why? Or why not?
    Thanks a lot

    • Your examples are phrases, not sentences. In the phrase “the city center,” the word “city” is used as an adjective describing the word “center.” This phrase implies a specific place, such as a location for civic activity. “The center of the city” on the other hand is more general and could imply a geographic point. We would need to see the full sentence to determine which phrase should be used. Regarding your second group of phrases, using either the possessive “car’s window” or the word “car” as an adjective to describe “window” would be a matter of preference. Both phrases are grammatically correct. Examples:
      The car’s windows are dirty.
      The car windows are dirty.
      A car’s window should be kept clean.
      A car window should be kept clean.

      Please see our post Apostrophes and False Possessives for more information.

  93. SF says:

    Would it be:

    Ladies, please share with your Dad’s
    Ladies, please share with your Dads


    • A simple plural does not use an apostrophe. Also, our post Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize? says, “Do not capitalize a kinship name when it is not part of the personal name but is a word describing the personal name. This usually occurs when the kinship name is preceded by articles such as the, a, or an; or possessive pronouns such as his, her, my, our, your, or their.” Since dads is preceded by the possessive pronoun your, do not capitalize. A period is required at the end of the sentence.
      Ladies, please share with your dads.

  94. Christy says:

    When is it proper to capitalize the Day after a holiday? Is it Christmas Day or Christmas day? Is it Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s day?

  95. Karen says:

    If a group is called “Servant’s Heart” would it ever be proper to eliminate the apostrophe?

  96. Yvette B. says:

    What if you’re adding up all the children as a whole, but are then trying to distinguish the children’s characteristics individually out of each group?

    Ex. The school bused in children from Group, A, Group B, & Group C. The children’s core physical characteristics in Group A, all had brown hair & brown/blue eyes. The children’s core physical characteristics in Group B, all had brown/blond hair and blue eyes,” etc…

    Perhaps that’s not a very good example…

    What I mean is, how would you add up the children collectively from each group if you’re trying to define the students as a whole from group’s A, B, & C?

    Would you use “children’s” or “childrens'” in these instances?

  97. Britt McMurray says:

    I am wondering about ‘The Lonely Hearts Club’ – is this a case where I need a possessive? Should it read ‘The Lonely Heart’s Club’? When I look online I see groups that use no possessive. Is that because the club does not belong to the lonely hearts?

  98. Julie Bergeron says:

    If both proper names own the same one item is it Tom’s and Charles’s cat or Tom and Charles’s cat?

  99. Amy says:

    For a holiday invitation, is it good punctuation to say, “Please join us for Thanksgiving at The Valdman’s”? Is the apostrophe correct on that one?

    • If you are referring to more than one person whose last name is Valdman, you need to form the plural by adding an s. To show plural possession, put an apostrophe after the s.
      “Please join us for Thanksgiving at The Valdmans’.”

  100. Brent says:

    Married couple A and B have two children from their marriage. A has one child from a prior marriage. B has two children from a prior marriage.

    What does the phrase “the couples’ children” mean? Does it refer to the two children of their marriage or all five children?

    • If you are referring to one couple, the phrase would be written “the couple’s children.” See our Rule 1a of Apostrophes. We would interpret this to include all the children.

      However, there may not be a strict “grammatical” interpretation of “the couple’s children.” We can see how some might find this to be ambiguous. Ambiguity still exists when using expressions modeled after Rules 4a and 4b of Apostrophes: A’s and B’s children (this might be interpreted to include all five children), A and B’s children (this might be interpreted to include only the children resulting from the marriage of A and B). If there is some sort of “official” reason to define the children with complete clarity, the couple may have to resort to cumbersome delineations such as A’s child from a previous marriage, B’s children from a previous marriage, A and B’s children from their marriage, or the couple’s children from both marriages.

  101. Patricia Ferrari says:

    I am creating a business card and I am unclear if it should read:
    Children’s Handmade Dresses or Childrens Handmade Dresses.

  102. Jeanette says:

    If you are showing that a noun could be singular or plural and then add possessive, is this correct?
    Owner’s(s’) ?

    • That’s a creative approach. However, it may be more confusing than helpful. We suggest that a rewrite might be the best option.
      Example: name(s) of owner(s).

  103. Donnell King says:

    I have a picture of my two granddaughters and want to post grannys girls as the caption. How would I correctly write this?

  104. Kevin DeWitt says:

    Q: If 2 brothers (Bill and Bob) own a car together, which is correct to write, “Bill and Bob’s car” or “Bill’s and Bob’s car”?

    (It has been my experience that the first option is more often used in everyday conversation.)

  105. Jim Meenagh says:

    When making a comparison with possessive nouns, would the second noun have an apostrophe s even if the possession or object is inferred? For example “The Smith’s house is bigger than the Johnson’s.” In this case, “house” is inferred but not stated. Thanks!

    • Since you are referring to more than one person whose last name is Smith, you need to form the plural first; then immediately use an apostrophe and write “The Smiths’ house.” Your sentence requires the plural possessive of the name Johnson as well.

      “The Smiths’ house is bigger than the Johnsons’.”
      Please see our Rules for Apostophes for more information.

  106. Debra Sharp says:

    Would it be correct to say my sister’s, Sally, car? It doesn’t look right to me.

    • The phrase would be written “my sister, Sally’s, car” or “”my sister Sally’s car.” The name Sally in your sentence is an appositive. Our post Commas with Appositives says, “The definition of an appositive is a word or word group that defines or further identifies the noun or noun phrase preceding it.” When an appositive is essential to the meaning of the noun it belongs to, don’t use commas. When the noun preceding the appositive provides sufficient identification on its own, use commas around the appositive.Therefore, if you have only one sister, the word sister is a precise identifier so the appositive is surrounded by commas. If you have more than one sister, the appositive is essential so no commas are used.

  107. Kalina says:

    Please help me clarify the usage of possessive when there is “of” in front of the person.
    For example: This is a key of Kate. or This is a key of Kate’s.
    Which is correct?

    This question arose from a grammar test (the sentence and options copied below).
    I searched the COCA and found many examples for “of my husband” (without ‘s or noun aftewards), but all the examples I found for “of my husband’s” were followed by a noun, which is not the case here.

    Visiting Hawaii is a(n) _____.
    A) old dream of my husband’s
    B) old dream of my husband
    C) my husband’s old dream
    D) dream of old of my husband

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 7.26 says, “According to a usage that is sometimes referred to as the double possessive or double genitive, a possessive form may be preceded by of where one of several is implied. Where the meaning is not literally possessive, however, the possessive form should not be used.” Therefore, writing “a key of Kate’s” and “an old dream of my husband’s” may both be grammatically correct. Following CMOS’s reasoning, This is a key of Kate’s should imply this is one of Kate’s keys, whereas This is Kate’s key puts the focus on just one key. (This is a key of Kate is awkward and confusing.) Similarly Visiting Hawaii is an old dream of my husband’s should tell us that he has more than one old dream, but Visiting Hawaii is my husband’s old dream emphasizes a single dream. (Visiting Hawaii is an old dream of my husband is an awkward construction that leaves one wondering whose dream it was.)

  108. Andrew McGowan says:

    I’m the president of a group of dads at an elementary school. We hold events, fundraise, etc. Here’s my question:

    Should this group/club be called The Dads Club or The Dads’ Club or the Dad’s Club?

    I’ve been leaning towards The Dads Club since dads don’t own/possess the club but want to get this right. Thanks for your help!

    • It’s essentially your choice—just don’t choose Dad’s, which would indicate one dad formed the club and is in charge. If Dads is used as an adjective describing the word Club, then an apostrophe is not used. If it is thought of as a club belonging to the dads, it would be written “Dads’ Club.” Also see our post Apostrophes and False Possessives for more information.

  109. Lorraine Evans says:

    Going crazy. Headline posted: “Councilmembers’ night in July Presentation.”
    Is that correct or should it read: “Councilmember’s night in July Presentation”?
    Isn’t this like “Children’s Hospital”? Councilmember is a collective noun, right?

  110. Key says:

    With the use of the apostrophe, could one say my mother’s father’s funeral or my mother’s father funeral?

    • Writing “my mother’s father’s funeral” is grammatically correct. To avoid the double possessive, you could also write “the funeral of my mother’s father.”

  111. Dylan says:

    If I have to write “A hidden spot from the villagers sight,” would I use villager’s or villagers’?

  112. Kevin says:

    Which is correct?
    1) The world needs more Olivias.
    2) The world needs more Olivia’s.
    Olivia in this case is a person, not the name Olivia.

  113. Elane says:

    If a child has two mums (mummies) and you want to say, “My mummies are my valentines,” where do you put the apostrophes?

  114. Reggie Haack says:

    Which is proper?
    a. Please check your ticket and your kids. or
    b. Please check your ticket and your kids’.

    The focus of the question is on the possessive form for “kids” when the object of their possession is implied, not stated. Thanks in advance for your wisdom.

  115. Charlene says:

    Would you say:

    Without my or Joe Smith’s permission… or
    Without Joe Smith’s or my permission…?

    • says:

      It is grammatical courtesy for the writer to place his or her name last unless there is a good reason to do otherwise. Therefore, write “Without Joe Smith’s or my permission …”

  116. Cynthia Griffin says:

    Which, if any, would be correct?

    He has two doctor appointments next week.
    He has two doctor’s appointments next week.
    He has two doctors’ appointment next week.

    And which would be appropriate for the following scenarios?

    (1) If both appointments were with the same doctor, and
    (2) If each appointment was with different doctors?

    Thank you for your help.

    • says:

      Using the word doctor as an adjective to describe the word appointments would be appropriate for both scenarios. Therefore, write “He has two doctor appointments next week.” Please see our post Apostrophes and False Possessives for more information.

  117. Confused on Possesive Plural says:

    When talking about items that individuals do not share but the item has the same name. For example, a calendar. If looking to get a mutual time on several calendars. Would it be

    I am looking for a mutual time next week on Tim, Rob, and Andrew’s calendars?
    I am looking for a mutual time next week on Tim’s, Rob’s, and Andrew’s calendar?

    • says:

      Since the individuals do not share one calendar, use the plural noun calendars.

  118. Danielle says:

    What about the possessive of “older” and “other”?

    It okay to write “The older’s hair is brown, but the other’s hair is blond”?
    Or is it
    “The olders hair is brown, but the others hair is blond”?
    Because “others” in this instance sounds more like multiple people, and I’m only refering to one person. And both “older’s” and “olders” come up as incorrect spelling in documents when I write electronically.

  119. Jennifer says:

    I’m writing a sentence saying even though someone wasn’t living at Grandmom’s house it didn’t matter but Grandmom’s keeps coming up underlined no matter how I change it. What is proper?

  120. Oliver says:

    I find some scientific writers, particularly when English is not their native language, use an apostrophe when there is no personified possessor, which seems to me quite unidiomatic, e.g. I have just corrected “Distribution of dominance phases’ durations …” to “The distribution of dominance phase duration…”. But then I started to worry about the rule. You can argue that “Russia’s policy..” treats the country like a person, but ” the fault in the car’s headlights” or “the problem of the power station’s location” sound OK too. Where do we draw the line? Or am I just expressing a stylistic prejudice? Is it something about the complexity of the noun phrase concerned?

    • says:

      Deciding how and where to assign adjectival possession can often be a matter of writer style and preference. It is often acceptable to communicate nonpersonified possession with an apostrophe. For example, “Russia’s policy” is equal to and more succinct than “the economy of Russia” unless we wish to use the longer phrase either for style or parallelism with another item in the sentence. You can find more information about this topic in our post Apostrophes and False Possessives.

  121. Sophiat says:

    Is it right to say “my friend’s Father’s party”?

  122. VANCE WALKER says:

    Similar to the above Q & A (Kevin DeWitt says: Q: If 2 brothers (Bill and Bob) own a car together, which is correct to write, “Bill and Bob’s car” or “Bill’s and Bob’s car”?
    (It has been my experience that the first option is more often used in everyday conversation.) says: November 27, 2019, at 6:36 am
    Our Rule 4a of Apostrophes says, “If two people possess the same item, put the apostrophe + s after the second name only.”), but not sure if this the same:
    “In spite of your father’s and my bickering, and our hideous behavior…” Should father have the ‘s? Thanks.

    • says:

      Writing “In spite of your father’s and my bickering, and our hideous behavior…” is grammatically correct.

  123. JoAnne Weber says:

    My son has two mothers and knows that in our family it’s Happy Mothers’ Day.

  124. Tina Heckert says:

    Mothers Day: no apostrophe

    The argument here is that Mothers do not own the day, so no possession is involved. No apostrophe is thus needed. We are describing a day for Mothers, not a day belonging to Mothers.

    Same with Fathers Day, Valentines Day, Veterans Day, etc.

  125. tom beckstein says:

    “My son’s son’s wedding”?

    • says:

      Although the phrase is awkward, it is grammatically correct. You might also simply write “my grandson’s wedding.”

  126. Muralidharan Menon says:

    Is it correct to write “a practioners manual” or “a practioners’ manual,” when the manual is for all practioners in the profession?
    Where should the apostrophe be put when the manual is for all the practioners?

    • says:

      Since you are referring to a manual for practitioners, the apostrophe is correct (“A practitioners’ manual”). However, others might use “practitioners” as a descriptive adjective rather than as a possessive adjective to modify “manual” (“A practitioners manual”). No apostrophe is required in that case. In other words, you would be correct either way depending on your preference.

  127. BMAC says:

    Is it Parent’s Night Out or Parents’ Night Out? This is where they drop their kid off and go have fun. I want it to sound inclusive to single parents.

    • says:

      Since the event is for more than one parent, the plural possessive Parents’ is correct. You could also use Parents as a descriptive adjective rather than as a possessive adjective to modify the noun “night.” No apostrophe is required in that case. See our post Apostrophes and False Possessives.

  128. Patty Mann says:

    Is the possessive used correctly in this sentence?

    Joe Smith’s getting married. (Instead of Joe Smith is getting married.)

    • says:

      Your sentence contains an example of a contraction rather than a possessive. The apostrophe represents the missing i in the word is. Our post Contractions in English indicates that although the contraction is grammatically correct, it is discouraged in formal writing.

  129. Nicolas says:

    Could you please help me with the following questions? What would be the difference between council’s meeting and council meeting. Is there any? I understand that in one case the noun woud work as an adjective and in the other as a noun, but in real-life English is there any difference?

    • says:

      The line between a possessive or genitive form and a noun used attributively is sometimes fuzzy. Whether you use the possessive “council’s” or the word “council” as an adjective to describe the noun “meeting” is a matter of style and preference. Either is grammatically correct. See our post Apostrophes and False Possessives.

  130. Blake R says:

    Is this correct when speaking about the great food my friend’s mom cooks? “Nam’s mom’s eggrolls are delicious!”

  131. AmyB says:

    Which is correct? (Each employee has their own fob.)

    Employee’s – Please use your fobs or Employee’s – please use your fob’s

    • says:

      Neither is correct. Our Rule 2b. of Apostrophes says, “Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural.” Therefore, we see no reason to use an apostrophe in the plural nouns “Employees” or “fobs.” In addition, the complete sentence “Please use your fobs” should end in a period.
      Employees – Please use your fobs.

  132. Jill says:

    If I wanted people to know a cup belonged to me would I write on cup Jill or Jill’s?

    • says:

      If you write “Jill,” it implies “This cup belongs to Jill.” Writing “Jill’s” indicates “This is Jill’s cup.” Since we rarely see personalized items with the name including ‘s except for signs such as “Jill’s Kitchen,” we prefer omitting the ‘s.

  133. stacey says:

    How to punctuate:
    “That doesn’t change either of the parties desire to sign that.”

    Should it be punctuated as “either of the parties’ desire” or “either of the party’s desire” or “either of the parties desire”?
    I am required to transcribe verbatim and the speaker said “desire,” but the speaker is referring to two people with desires. I believe “parties” is a possessive adjective in this instance and “desire” is the noun. “Either” is used with a singular noun and “either of” is used with a plural noun (although a plural noun was not spoken in this instance).

    • says:

      The plural possessive noun parties’ is correct in your example sentence.
      “That doesn’t change either of the parties’ desire to sign that.”

  134. Michael Charters says:

    Would you say We’re going to celebrate Karen and my birthdays OR We’re going to celebrate Karen’s and my birthdays? The latter sounds better to me because it refers to a birthday that is possessed by both Karen and me. And I believe that ‘birthdays’ should be plural because they are two different days.

    • says:

      “We’re going to celebrate Karen’s and my birthdays” is correct. Since you are celebrating two birthdays, the plural noun “birthdays” is used. Another way to write it would be “We’re going to celebrate Karen’s birthday and mine.”

  135. D. Brown says:

    I want to make a sign for our family camping site. Would it read Brown’s Camp or Browns Camp? Thank you!

    • says:

      Since the name Brown applies to more than one person, the plural possessive Browns’ is correct. You could also use Browns as a descriptive adjective rather than as a possessive adjective to modify the noun “Camp.” No apostrophe is required in that case. See our post Apostrophes and False Possessives.

  136. Michele Mosier says:

    I’m confused about how to correctly write Girlfriends Getaway for the title of a photo montage I’m creating. There were three of us on the trip. Is it Girlfriends’ Getaway, Girfriends Getaway, or Girlfriends’s Getaway.

    • says:

      Since the getaway included more than one girlfirend, the plural possessive Girlfriends’ is correct. You could also use Girlfriends as a descriptive adjective rather than as a possessive adjective to modify the noun Getaway. No apostrophe is required in that case. See our post Apostrophes and False Possessives.

  137. Daisy says:

    When referring to two priests, what is correct?

    Fathers John and Dave had a good day.
    Fathers’ John and Dave had a good day.
    Father’s John and Dave had a good day.

    Thank you!

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