Home   |   TOPIC LIST   |   About   |   Contact

Plural possessive nouns

Say we’re dealing with the noun ‘dog’. What if we want to talk about the masters of more than one dog at once? We’d have to say something like:

The dogs’ masters were all present at the dog training school.

When we want to make a plural noun like ‘dogs’ into a possessive noun, we just add an apostrophe after the ‘s’.

If the plural form of the noun does not already have an ‘s’ at its end, then we can add an apostrophe followed by an ‘s’, like this:

The men’s tennis tour is not watched by as many people as the women’s tour.

Both ‘men’ and ‘women’ are plural nouns, that don’t end in ‘s’. So when we make them into plural possessive nouns, we add both an apostrophe and an ‘s’.

Handy Hint - The difference between the possessive and the descriptive

Fathers Day and Mothers Day are the cause of many arguments. Not because people don’t know what to get their parents, but because no-one knows for sure how to write it. Here are the three options:

Fathers Day

Father’s Day

Fathers’ Day

So which option is correct? Well, everyone has an opinion, and there are arguments that can be made for any of the three options. However, here’s my take on the whole thing.

First of all, let’s compare the last two options:

-  Father’s Day means that the day belongs to one father, since the apostrophe is before the ‘s’.

-  Fathers’ Day means that the day belongs to all fathers as a group, because the apostrophe is after the ‘s’.

Personally, out of those two choices, I prefer the second one - ‘Fathers’ Day’. I think the day belongs to all fathers around the world, although you will probably celebrate it with just your father. Unless you’re one of those people who think it’s all a commercial ploy to generate greeting card and product sales!

And then we come to the option without any apostrophe at all - ‘Fathers Day’. I like this option best. When you write it this way you’re saying that this is a day for fathers, not a day owned by fathers. If you like this logic, then you can also apply it to some other words; for instance, the names of schools, like my high school:

Brisbane Boys Grammar School

Because it’s a school for boys, you don’t need to put an apostrophe before or after the ‘s’ in ‘boys’.