Want Our App?

Possessive Nouns

possessive nouns lessons possessive nouns enrichment strategies possessive nouns word lists possessive nouns games

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'.
It is forming the possessives of irregularly formed plural nouns that presents more confusion. Children's, women's, men's are just some of these nouns. Teachers are challenged to show students that first they should write the plural form of the nouns, and then they should add the apostrophe and the 's' to show ownership.

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.

Click to view Possessive Nouns at a glance

The complete standards correlation for this activity is coming soon!

VocabularySpellingCity® is a registered trademark.
Premium Activities

Sorry, this activity is available to Premium Members only.

If you are a Premium Member, click here to log in to your account.

Want to know about Premium Membership? Just $29.99/yr for a family or $52.95/yr for a classroom. Learn more

Sorry. This feature is available
to Premium Members only.

Click here to upgrade to a Premium Membership

Learn more about this and other Premium features available to teachers at $52.95/yr per classroom or to families at $29.99/year