Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


Headset icon.svg This entry needs audio files. If you have a microphone, please record some and upload them. (For audio required quickly, visit WT:APR.)


Etymology 1[edit]



-'s (clitic)

  1. contracted form of is
    The dog’s running after me!
  2. contracted form of has
    The dog’s been chasing the mail carrier again.
  3. (informal) contracted form of does (used only with the auxiliary meaning of does and only after interrogative words)
    What’s he do for a living?
    What’s it say?
    Where’s the n in Javanese come from?
  4. (nonstandard) are
    Where’s the table tennis balls?



  1. contracted form of us (found in the formula let’s which is used to form first-person plural imperatives)
    What are you guys waiting for? Let’s go!
  2. (UK, dialect) contracted form of as (when it is (nonstandardly) used as a relative pronoun)
    All’s he wanted was to go home.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English -s, -es, from Old English -es (-'s, masculine and neuter genitive singular ending), from Proto-Germanic *-as, *-is (masculine and neuter genitive singular ending). Cognate with Dutch -s, -es (-'s), German -s, -es (-'s), Danish -s, -es (-'s).



  1. Possessive marker, indicating than an object belongs to the noun phrase bearing the marker.
    The cat bit the dog’s tail and ran. (the dog + ’s)
    The cat bit the dog with the shaggy fur’s tail and ran. (the dog with the shaggy fur + ’s)
    • 2012 April 15, Phil McNulty, “Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea”, BBC:
      Before kick-off, a section of Chelsea’s support sadly let themselves and their club down by noisily interrupting the silence held in memory of the Hillsborough disaster and for Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who collapsed and died after suffering a heart attack during a Serie B game on Saturday.
  2. In the absence of a specified object, used to indicate “the house/place/establishment of”.
    We’re going to Luigi’s for dinner tonight. — that is, “Luigi’s house” or “Luigi’s restaurant”
    I'm going to the butcher’s for a steak.
    I bought it at Tesco's. (see s-form)
Usage notes[edit]

Words ending in s are made possessive in various ways. Consider:[1]

  • With regular plurals, the apostrophe is placed at the end, i.e. s' is used:
    the dogs’ tails (whereas for singular ‘dog’: the dog’s tail)
  • Irregular plurals with endings other than ‘s’ (e.g. children) always take ’s:
    the children’s voices
  • The possessives of names which end in s may be formed using either this suffix (-'s) or ' (which see for more).
    St. James’s or St. James’, Chris's or Chris', Jesus's or Jesus'
  • To remedy ambiguity or awkwardness in either speech or print, possessives can generally be recast using of.
    the tails of the dogs
    the paths of St. James
  • When referring to possessions of multiple people who don't share the same name, the standard, formal way to form the possessive is:
    Jack’s and Jill’s pails
  • However, it is common to treat the pair of names as a noun phrase and to form the possessive of this instead, using only one ’s:
    Jack and Jill’s pails



  1. Indicates a purpose or a user.
    You need a driver’s licence.
    These are popular boy’s T-shirts.
    Alex can be a girl’s name.
Usage notes[edit]
Broom icon.svg A user suggests that this entry be cleaned up, giving the reason: “there should be a better clarification”.
Please see the discussion on Requests for cleanup(+) or the talk page for more information and remove this template after the problem has been dealt with.

The particle ’s and the suffix ’s have the same origin but are grammatically different now.

  • particle: a girl’s name : The name of a specific girl. The particle combines with a girl.
  • suffix: a girl’s name : A female name. The suffix combines with girl.

Etymology 3[edit]

Equivalent to -s, with arbitrary use of apostrophe.



  1. (sometimes proscribed) Used to form the plurals of numerals, letters, some abbreviations and some nouns, usually because the omission of an apostrophe would make the meaning unclear or ambiguous.
    There are four 3’s in my phone number.
    “Banana” has three a’s and one b. (apostrophe "s" used so that the plural of “a” is not confused with the word “as”)
    You can buy CD’s in that shop.
    These are the do’s and don’ts. (apostrophe "s" used as “dos” may be misread)
  2. (obsolete) Used to form plurals of foreign words, to clarify pronunciation, such as “banana’s” or “pasta’s”.[2]
  3. (proscribed) Used to form the plural of nouns that correctly take just an "s" in the plural. See greengrocer’s apostrophe.
    Apple’s 50p a pound
Usage notes[edit]

The use of ’s to form plurals of initialisms or numerals is not currently recommended by most authorities, except when the meaning would otherwise be unclear. The use in foreign words was common before the 19th century, but is no longer accepted.[2] The use of the apostrophe in any other plural (as in “apple’s”) — the so-called “greengrocer’s apostrophe” — is proscribed.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ William Strunk & E. B. White, The Elements of Style (1972), page 1
  2. 2.0 2.1 Truss, Lynn. Eats, Shoots & Leaves. pp. 63–65.




-'s pl

  1. Used to form the plural form of nouns ending in a vowel, except schwa.
    fotofoto’s (instead of fotoos)
    taxitaxi’s (instead of taxies)
  2. Used to form the genitive form of proper nouns which end in certain vowels; the apostrophe actually stands for an elided vowel.
    AnnaAnna’s (instead of Annaas)


Alternative forms[edit]



  1. (archaic) Used to form the genitive of proper names
  2. Used to form the genitive of proper names under certain circumstances.
    Andrea → Andrea's (but also: Andreas) (to avoid confusion with the name Andreas)

Usage notes[edit]

  • The use of -'s instead of -s is allowed, according to the German spelling reform of 1996, only when bare -s would be ambiguous (as in the example above). In informal writing it is sometimes used even when there is no ambiguity (e.g. Peter's), but this is proscribed.