What is the difference between possessives and plurals?

From LitWiki
Revision as of 14:55, 10 November 2006 by Vlogan (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

What is the differences between Plurals and Possessvies?

Students get many points deducted, from a report, because they do not know the difference between possessives and plurals. The most common mistakes are with nouns and verbs. Remember, verbs, like "see" and "draw," will never use an apostrophe when "s" is added, as "s" denotes the present tense third person” (Engcit Grammar Online). One way to tell the differents between a plural and possessives is by checking the meaning of the sentence. Check to see if the noun simply refers to more than one thing, or if the sentence mention something that belongs to the noun.


Plural means of or being a grammatical form that designates more than one of the things specified.

Two Types of Plurals:

  • Regular Plurals
  • Irregular Plurals

Regular Plurals

By adding an “s,” nouns can be changed to the plural form. That is not always the case. Some nouns will require more than just an “s” if wanted to change into a plural noun. Plural form of a noun indicates that there are more than on of the person or thing in the question.

  • Singular- boy
  • Plural- boys

Here are a few ways plurals do not require just an “s” added on to a word.

  • Nouns ending in y after a consonant or qu should be changed to -ies.
  • Nouns that end in end that follows a vowel should be added on with an “s.”
  • Some plural can only be pronounced by only adding a syllable. Add an “s” if the noun already ends in a silent “e.”
  • The plural form generally refers to two or more persons or things, but that is not always the case; The plural is used for zero persons or things, for fractional things in a quantity greater than one, and for people or things when the quantity is unknown.

Irregular Plurals

  • Nouns that end with -s, -z, -x, -sh, -ch

Add -es

Examples: glass/glasses, buzz/buzzes, box/boxes, bush/bushes, switch/switches

  • Nouns that end in -o

Add -es

Examples: potato/potatoes, echo/echoes, hero/heroes *Note There may be come exceptions.

  • Nouns that end in a consonant + -y

Change -y to -i and add -es

Examples: baby/babies, spy/spies, poppy/poppies

  • Nouns that end in -f, or -fe

Change the -f to -v and add -es

Examples:shelf/shelves, wolf/wolves, knife/knives, wife/wives


Possessives are a bit more confusing than plurals. Possessives are of, relating to, or being a noun or pronoun case that indicates possession.

There are two different possessives:

  • possessives pronouns
  • possessive nouns

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns do not require an apostrophe like possessive nouns do. If you are having a hard time deciding whether the word is possessive ask yourself the question who does it belong to? If the answer does not end in an “s, “then add an apostrophe “s” to the word. If the answer does end in and “s” then just add an apostrophe to the word.


  • Bob's car is a Porsche. (the car belonging to Bob)
  • The dog's collar is red. (the collar of the dog)
  • My mother-in-law's job requires travel. (the job held by the mother-in-law) (Engcit Grammar Online)

Possessive Nouns

A possessive noun shows ownership. Possessive nouns are formed by adding an apostrophe and "s" or only an apostrophe. Possessives manifest in a desire to control or dominate another, especially in order to limit that person's relationship with others.

See the words that tell who owns the bicycles?

  • One girl's bicycle was pink.
  • The twins' bicycle has two seats.
  • The men's bicycles have large frames.

The words "girl's", "twins' ", and "men's" are possessive nouns. The possessive form of a noun shows that the person or thing named owns something.

Hint: “You would not be likely to misspell the possessive pronoun: his. You would not spell it hi's. Therefore, don't put an apostrophe in any of the other possessive pronouns: its, yours,theirs, hers, ours” (Writer’s Style Guide).

Overuses of apostrophes are one of the main reason points are deducted from papers. Do not put apostrophes just because it may look right. Make sure the apostrophes are supposed to be there (Engcit Grammar Online).

Helpful Websites

 Plurals [1]
 Possessives [2]
 More Plurals[3]
 Irregular Plurals [4]
 Plurals [5]
 Possessives [6]
 Plurals/ Possessives [7]

Works Citied

Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. 5th ed. Boston:

   Bedford/St.Martin's, 2003

Writer's Style Guide. 16 May 2003


Engcit Grammar Online. Plurals vs. Possessives. 10 Aug. 1999.


Hodges' Hatbrace Handbook.

  Bedford 36/ Hodge's