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VocabularySpellingCity provides worksheets, games, videos and lessons to aid in teaching possessive noun rules. Our possessive noun word lists help student learn how to correctly spell and use the singular and plural possessive forms of many nouns and how to distinguish them from simple plurals and from contractions.
Forming the Singular Possessive Form of Nouns
A possessive noun shows that someone (or something) owns an item. In the simplest cases, an apostrophe and the letter 's' are added to the noun to show that ownership. Some examples are baby's, boy's, and army's.
Is it a plural noun?
Many students think that to form plural nouns, they should add an apostrophe and s. So, to clarify the difference, teachers must show students that most nouns (there are some exceptions, such as mice, deer, octopi, etc.) are made plural by simply adding 's' to the end of the noun, without an apostrophe. Examples include boys, girls, and books.
Singular or Plural Possessive
The possessive forms of plural nouns provide another complication for students. For many of the nouns, students understand they simply need to add the 's' to form the plural and then add the apostrophe to show ownership - an extra 's' following the apostrophe is not necessary. Some examples are boys', girls', and books'.
Nouns ending in 's'
Forming the possessives of nouns already ending in 's' can be tricky. The words class and grass are examples.
To form the singular possessive, simply add the apostrophe following the final 's' - for example, class' and grass'. Some teachers have their students add the apostrophe plus an additional 's' to help students see the possessive form. So, class's and grass's are, in fact, acceptable spellings of the words.
To form the plural possessives of these same nouns, explain that first the nouns must be made plural – classes, grasses.
Once the nouns have been made plural, simply add an apostrophe to the end of the word. The plural possessive forms of class and grass are classes' and grasses'.
Apostrophe = Contraction - A Common Mistake
Students see an apostrophe and they mistakenly assume the word is a contraction because they assume that a possessive and a contraction are the same. Students may already be familiar with contractions. The differentiation needs to be made clear. Contractions are a combination of two words with the apostrophe taking the place of a letter (or letters) omitted when the new word is formed. In possessives, no letter is being omitted. There are a few possessives and contractions that sound exactly alike by have different meanings. Some of these are featured in our Possessives vs. Contractions word list.
Possessive Nouns at a glance:
Four Forms of Nouns - Adults: man, men, man's, men's, woman, women, woman's, women's
Four Forms of Nouns - Animals: bird, birds, bird's, birds', dog, dogs, dog's, dogs'
Four Forms of Nouns - Children: boy, boys, boy's, boys', girl, girls, girl's, girls'
Four Forms of Nouns - Family: aunt, aunts, aunt's, aunts', uncle, uncles, uncle's, uncles'
Four Forms of Nouns - Professions: doctor, doctors, doctor's, doctors', teacher, teachers, teacher's, teachers'
Four Forms of Nouns - School: school, schools, school's, schools', class, classes, class', classes'
Possessives vs. Contractions: its, it's, who's, whose, there's, theirs, your, you're