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Write the Right Word: Possessives

Possessives (indicating ownership) can be tricky.

When do I add an “s”? When do I add an “es”? Where does the apostrophe go?

Here are some basic rules:

  • If the word doesn’t end with an “s,” add ’s. For example: the alumni’s contributions, women’s rights, the church’s needs, the girl’s toys
  • Simply add the apostrophe if the word ends in “s.” For instance: churches’ needs, horses’ food, states’ rights, VIPs’ entrance
  • Add ’s if the word ends with an “x” or “z.” For instance: Butz’s policies, fox’s den, Marx’s theories, Xerox’s profits
  • For words ending with “ss,” add ’s. For example: hostess’s invitation, witness’s answer, witness’s story
  • With proper names ending in “s,” just add an apostrophe. For example: Dickens’ novels, Jules’ seat, Agnes’ book

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391



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