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Am I Possessive?

Am I Possessive?

Writer’s team? Writers’ staff? Writers group?

Ever fight over the inclusion of an apostrophe when two nouns look next to one another? Perhaps you’ve written something similar to composing group to spare yourself the frustration of figuring out which option is correct.

It’s probable that at any point we’t all inquired whether or not an apostrophe was appropriate for the very first noun when two nouns are paired. Along with the doubt is greatest when the very first word is a plural ending in S.

We are aware that we put in an apostrophe to show ownership or possession with nouns: John’so puppy, the college ’s mascot, her parents’ errors. However, if a word isn’t possessive, does it occasionally get an apostrophe?

Answer: Yes. The genitive case uses apostrophes to reveal relationships or relationships between words. Showing possession or ownership is only one use of the genitive.

Are there instances when an apostrophe isn’t even needed for nouns?

Answer: Yes. When the very first noun is operating within an adjective.

Attributive vs. Possessive Nouns

The option between apostrophe and no apostrophe will be easy if the possessive was really always genuinely possessive. However, what we generally call the possessive is actually the case. The genitive assists us show ownership, nevertheless that’s not everything it does. The genitive can be utilized to reflect dimension (like time)—five times ’ worth of dirty laundry, per day’s drive, one buck ’s worth of penny candies per month’s salary.  We also utilize the genitive to reveal not ownership or possession but origin.

Take this sentence:” We all marveled over Natalie’s painting.

Natalie’s painting can be owned by her, then it could have been painted by her, or it may be a painting of her own. In case the painting was produced by Natalie, the word Natalie’s shows origin.

If Natalie is the subject matter of the painting, for clarity we might write something such as we all marveled over Marco’s painting of Natalie. But we can and do say Natalie’s painting, and given the circumstance, others would understand what was meant.


You might have discovered the issue between the choice of an apostrophe and no apostrophe framed as attributive vs. possessive.

We call it an adjective when an adjective comes before a noun. When you’re trying to decide concerning an apostrophe for the very first noun in a multinoun pair, you will need to understand if the first noun is used in one of these genitive sensations, often as a possessive, or within an attributive adjective.

We’ve looked at a couple of noun classes (John’s puppy, college ’s mascot, parents’ mistakes). Permit ’s look at a attributive adjectives. The adjectives from the first three paragraphs are just adjectives placed before nouns; at the three sentences, nouns function as adjectives. I included both so you can see that nouns used as attributive adjectives function like adjectives.

The moon was bright.

An old wagon was left in the lawn.

Thomas played the misshapen kumquat

He claimed that a dog owner was distinct from a cat owner.

Our worker advocate was that the proprietor ’s son.

She explained I had chicken legs.

In the three examples, we could certainly see that there’s no need for an apostrophe for the very first noun in any of the pairs. The very first noun is used as an adjective in the same manner that the adjectives in the first 3 cases serve as adjectives.

But, we could modify the paragraphs and make the need for the possessive and thus the need for an apostrophe also.

That dog’s owner can be a cat fan.

The employees advocate didn’t do to assist the censured employees.

The chicken’s legs were so uneven.

However, what if the option isn’t clear cut? Sometimes, we might wish to consider what we understand about adjectives.


Are you comfortable with the imperial purchase of adjectives? Adjectives come in various categories, and the categories fall in a specific sequence when a noun is modified by several adjectives.

The mouse.

The pink mouse.

The mouse.

Pink pretty the mouse. X

Adjectives in a few of the categories are called qualifiers. They are typically nouns (occasionally gerunds), and they sit right next to the noun being modified. All these qualifiers are nouns working as attributive adjectives. A few examples—

Wedding dress

staff meeting

Evening gown

town council

What’so important to remember concerning qualifiers is that in the sequence of adjectives, they’re the last adjective from a set of adjectives, the one nearest to the noun that they modify. The qualifier along with the noun it modifies are a set that can’t be separated, perhaps not if we intend to maintain the same meaning; we all don’t put other adjectives between the qualifier along with the noun. Think of the pair as a chemical or a unit. So we can say the blue wedding gown, but we could ’t say the wedding blue dress. We can say the town council although not the town council that is crooked.

However , we could insert an adjective between the noun pairs, After we re talking possessives.

This puppy ’s irate proprietor can be a cat fan.

The employees advocate didn’t do to assist the employees that are censured.

The chicken’s skinny legs were uneven.

Three of the paragraphs within the example don’t work since I’ve added an amalgamated between the qualifier along with the noun it s modifying. They can t move between, although the adjectives that are new can go before the noun pair.

He said that a puppy irate owner was distinct from a cat owner. X

He said an abysmal dog owner…

Our worker urge was that the proprietor ’s son. X

Our unworthy employee urge…

She explained I had chicken slender legs. X

She explained I had scrawny chicken legs.

So if you re having trouble choosing an apostrophe for a pair of nouns, temporarily insert an adjective between them. If the new term doesn’t make sense, you’ve obtained an attributive adjective that must fall immediately before the noun it modifies. Different adjectives before the noun pair if you would like to, but urge ’t put any between both nouns.

The wedding ice-blue apparel cost more than my car. X

The wedding apparel that is beautiful cost more than my car. X

The beautiful ice-blue silk wedding gown cost more than my car.

If the attributive isn’t right for your requirements or doesn’t match, add an apostrophe to the first noun and put as many other modifiers between the nouns as you’d like.

The wedding’s cost contributed for her parents’ divorce.

The wedding’s cost that was bank-breaking and exorbitant contributed to her parents’ marriage.

Based on what you re trying to convey, you might need the attributive or maybe you need the possessive. By adding modifiers between the nouns, you can decide which option is known for. (You overlook ’t need to utilize extra modifiers in your actual sentences to create this work. Adding them temporarily is just a test that will assist you determine possessive or attributive.)

Both of the sentences within the following example are valid, even though they don’t say exactly the same thing. One uses council within an adjective whereas the other uses council. The very first paragraph is more accurate in certain cases while the next would fit other scenarios.

The next council meeting will be on Monday.

The council’s next meeting will be on Monday.

Nouns Ending in S

Many attributive nouns will probably be singular, which means you may not have trouble deciding between no apostrophe and apostrophe typically. Yet even though you’ll probably have fewer opportunities to utilize a plural since the very first noun, there are a few plurals which are going to be attributive. What exactly about nouns that end in S, specifically plurals? How do these work? Are they really attributive or possessive? Apostrophe or no apostrophe?

With a couple exceptions, they function exactly the same manner singular nouns work. Consider these illustrations. I’ve included examples of singular nouns. (P=possessive, A=attributive)

The Giants’ pitcher was late to the match. (P)

The group ’s pitcher was late to the match. (P)

The Giants’ fresh pitcher was late to the match. (P)

The group ’s pitcher was late to the match. (P)

Giants pitcher Johnny Johns was late on the match. (A)

Team pitcher Johnny Johns was late on the match. (A)

Giants fresh pitcher Johnny Johns was late on the match.  X

Team fresh pitcher Johnny Johns was late on the match. X

Think about the name of a band that ends at S, whether plural or singular.

Kansas’s songs. (P)

Foo Fighters’ songs are all the rage today. (P)

Queen’s songs. (P)

Kansas’s older songs are all the rage today. (P)

Foo Fighters’ old songs are all the rage today. (P)

Queen’s older songs are all the rage today. (P)

Old Kansas songs are all the rage today. (A)

Old Foo Fighters songs are all the rage today. (A)

Old Queen songs are all the rage today. (A)

Kansas old songs are all the rage nowadays. X

Foo Fighters songs that are old are all the rage today. X

Queen songs that are old are all the rage nowadays. X

A few more—

Queen’s lead singer died way too young. (P)

Foo Fighters’ lead singer owns a Tesla. (P)

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was 45 when he died. (A)

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl owns a Tesla. (A)

The Beatles’ oldest songs t all loved. (P)

I like every Beatles tune. (A)

If you have trouble picking between attributive and possessive when the first noun of the noun pair is really a plural or ends within an S, substitute a singular noun to learn how it could be written.


According to the Associated Press Stylebook, we don’t use an apostrophe when that word ends in an S even if it s a phrase. As a tip, the AP Stylebook says that when a variant of the term uses by or for rather than of, an apostrophe wouldn’t be needed from the shorter version.

An association for lawyers

A attorneys association

However, if for, by, rather than aren’t useful, certainly fit adjectives between both nouns as a test.

The Chicago Manual of Style has a Tiny different take. Apart from for appropriate names (including names of businesses ), they urge for utilizing the apostrophe unless the intention is obviously not possessive. I suggest reversing that and checking to see if the noun is used at the sense that is attributive.

CMoS could have us write farmers’ market; I would argue for farmers market. Just as I could argue for nurses station writers conference, along with ladies area. I am able to ’t find any reason to alter the pattern just because the very first noun is plural rather than singular.

As we’ve observed, company names, band names, as well as the names of ball groups can be used as attributive and possessive, even when they end in S. The same is the case of members of professions or associations of people. So you can see these pairs would be attributive, I ’ ve included adjectives before the noun matches at the examples.

A [new] doctors that are center

The [very dry ] plumbers putty

The [oldest ] lawyers association

The [yearly ] writers conference

An [all-male] alumni association

The [biggest ] bricklayers union

A [comprehensive ] voters manual

A [abusive ] believers uprising

[an active] consumers lobby

That the [outspoken] drinks industry

Just because a word can be utilized as an attributive noun doesn’t imply that it should constantly or should just be used that way. And only because a plural can be utilized as an attributive, that doesn’t mean that it — or the identical word’s singular version —may ’t even be utilized as a possessive. I’ve included these examples so you can see some options and instances when a plural noun can be utilised from the attributive sense. I would like ’t mean to imply that the words may ’t be utilized in the possessive feeling or may ’t be attributive and adventurous as well.

Vitamins are focused on by the customers ’ newest lobby.

An voter manual is in the email.

Unusual Plurals

Some irregular plurals that don’t end in S get an apostrophe S while possessive or attributive.

The kids ’s new toys, the kids hospital

People’s expectations

Guys ’s hats

The girls ’s department


We covered a lot in this report. I am hoping that once you need to decide between attributive and possessive, the examples prove helpful. If you have questions, then please inquire.

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