Why do we say Travis’s album but Socrates’ ideals? The different rules for apostrophes after S can be tough, but I’ll make them simple for you.
Keep reading to learn when to use an apostrophe plus S (‘s) or an apostrophe (‘) for words ending in S. I also provided examples to enhance your understanding.
Where is Apostrophe S Used?
An apostrophe (‘) is a punctuation mark that creates a contraction or shows ownership for a possessive noun. We use it after an S (s’) for plural nouns that show possession or singular nouns ending in S.
You can also use it after the letter S as a possessive apostrophe for names or proper nouns ending in S.
Examples of Apostrophe After S
Here are some examples of apostrophes after S.
- The windows’ protective covering (plural noun).
- The fiberglass’ covers (common singular noun ending in S)
- Nicolas’ self-esteem (proper noun ending in S)
Apostrophe Placement Rules
Let’s look at the apostrophe rules for words ending in S.
Unlike the typical apostrophe and S (‘s), we use s and apostrophe (s’) for plural nouns that show possession.
- The candles’ flames were already burning when Rhea decided to put them out.
- The houses’ designs are too simple because you didn’t hire a good architect.
- Salmons’ love for both saltwater and freshwater makes them a common species.
In these sentences, the lone apostrophe after the s shows that the nouns are in plural formal. Therefore “salmons’s,” “houses’s,” and “candles’s” indicate incorrect apostrophe usage.
Singular Nouns Ending in S
You might also wonder where the pesky apostrophe goes if a singular, common noun ends in an S. The general rule is to add an apostrophe and S if it’s singular.
- The bus’s tires flattened, so we had to transfer to a new one.
- The class’s poster is eye-catching.
However, some style guides are okay with singular, common nouns ending only in apostrophes after the letter s.
- The bus’ tires flattened, so we had to transfer to a new one.
- I want to try that lass’ hairstyle.
Names Ending in S
Making a proper noun possessive in form can be as easy as using an apostrophe plus S. But the rules for an apostrophe after S are more complicated for proper nouns.
Do you have a friend named Chris or Travis? Different style guides have different suggestions on when to use an apostrophe only or an apostrophe plus S.
The AP Stylebook suggests adding an apostrophe after their names.
- Chris’ lecture changed my perspective.
- I saw Travis’ girlfriend today.
However, the Chicago Manual of Style and APA Publication Manual recommends adding an extra S after the S and apostrophe.
- Chris’s lecture changed my perspective.
- I saw Travis’s girlfriend today.
To make things trickier, some writers recommend only adding an S after the S and apostrophe if the reader will pronounce the additional letter.
For instance, many English speakers do not pronounce an additional S sound for the possessive form of Chris. Therefore, we only write Chris’ instead of Chris’s.
Names ending in silent letters S, Z, or X always have an additional S after the apostrophe to show possession.
- De Prez’s music.
- Alexandre Dumas’s The Black Tulip.
- Arkansas’s capital.
We often call people we know by their first name. But if we also mention their last name ending in S, we add an apostrophe and S because it’s singular.
- Catherine Jones’s marriage.
- Prada Harris’s education.
However, if the family name is in plural form, we only add an apostrophe. We usually use this structure with the words “the” before it when referring to an entire family.
- The Joneses’ house.
- The Harrises’ summer trip.
For classical names ending in S, the rules vary. The MLA and Chicago Manual of Style handbook recommend adding an apostrophe and s to form their possessive nouns. But writers seldom follow this rule.
- Jesus’s teachings.
- Moses’s laws.
- Socrates’s questions.
The most common way to show the possessive form of classical names is by adding an apostrophe.
- Jesus’ teachings.
- Moses’ laws.
- Socrates’ questions.
Many proper nouns ending in S also fall in the category of countries. In these cases, do not add another S. Instead, use only an apostrophe after S.
- The United States’ government structure.
- The Philippines’ beaches.
The same rule applies to states and other places.
- Texas’ senate does not cater to most of its population.
- San Luis’ farmers’ market is a beautiful spot in California.
However, if the place ends in an S sound but does not have the letter S, you should add an extra S after the apostrophe.
- France’s vineyards.
Do You Use an Apostrophe if the Word Ends in S?
Consult this table for a quick answer on whether you should use an apostrophe after the S or not.
Regular plural noun
Singular noun ending in S
Apostrophe and S for major style guides, apostrophe only for others
Bus’s or bus’
Name ending in S
Apostrophe and S for Chicago and APA, apostrophe only for AP Stylebook
Chris’s or Chris’
Classical name ending in S
Name ending in silent S
Apostrophe and S
Singular last name ending in S
Apostrophe and S
Plural last name
Countries and other places
The United States’
Which is Correct, Children’s or Childrens?
The correct term is children’s if you’re referring to the possessive form of children. But we don’t use it as a contraction for children and is because children is an irregular plural form of the noun child. Instead, we say children are.
Final Word on Apostrophe After S
I hope this post on apostrophe rules for words ending in S helped you understand when to use an apostrophe after S. Remember the basic rules that most style guides promote:
- Singular words ending in S, common or proper, use apostrophe and S.
- Plural words ending in S, common or proper, only use apostrophes.
Challenge yourself to a test below!