Apostrophes Before S – Rules and Examples

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Apostrophe rules are not as confusing as you think. Once you know the fundamental guidelines on their placement, you’ll be able to answer, where should the apostrophe go?

Keep reading to learn when to put an apostrophe before s. I also provided examples of how to use the apostrophe and s in a sentence.

Why Put an Apostrophe Before S?

The two main reasons we put apostrophes before S are to show contractions and possession. These are the most common apostrophe functions besides indicating the plural of letters, numbers, and symbols.

A possessive apostrophe has a letter S (‘s) after it to show that someone or something owns an item or is a member of something.

Grammarist Article Graphic V2 2022 08 11T213854.882

Here are some examples of ‘s in a sentence:

  • Margaret’s new mirror has brown edges.
  • Romeo’s motorcycle is lost.

We also use an apostrophe before s to indicate the combination of a word plus “is.”

Here are some examples:

  • Lui’s texting Georgia (short for “Lui is texting Georgia”).
  • The design on the shirt’s already fading (short for “The design on the shirt is already fading”).

When to Put an Apostrophe Before S and When to Put it After

One question that many English writers have when showing ownership is, where should the apostrophe go?

Use an apostrophe before s (‘s) if the noun is singular.


  • The ant’s food storage.
  • Jamie’s wine cellar.

You can also use an apostrophe before s (‘s) for irregular plural nouns that do not end in s.


  • Men’s bathroom.
  • People’s cry.

When the singular noun ends with S or Z but has one syllable, use apostrophe + s (‘s).


  • Mars’s moons.
  • Ross’s tumbler.

Note that some style guides do not recommend this rule. That means “Mars’ moons” and “Ross’ tumbler” may also be acceptable.

Be sure to have an apostrophe after the S (s’) at the end of regular plural nouns.


  • The parents’ bedroom.
  • The Johnsons’ home.

You should also use an apostrophe after the S (s’) for multi-syllable singular nouns that end in S.


  • Fiberglass’ cracks.
  • Gambas’ seasoning.

Examples of Using Apostrophe Before an S

Here are some examples of the apostrophe and S (‘s) in a sentence:

  • Lana’s perfume has a hint of musk.
  • The mobile application’s updated user interface is very impressive.
  • The oxen’s habitat should be spacious enough for them to walk freely.
  • The bass’s new sound is richer.
  • The old leather sofa’s fading and losing its texture.
  • Jillian’s a beautiful woman.

Examples of Using an Apostrophe After an S

Here are some examples of the S and apostrophe (s’) in a sentence:

  • These skirts’ linen fabric wrinkles quickly.
  • The Smiths’ new house is astonishing.
  • Some smartphones’ cameras are similar to DSLRs.
  • The pillows’ stuffing materials are different.
  • The algorithms’ functioning depends on the order of computation.

Apostrophe Placement Matters

Learning when to put an apostrophe before s or after s will help you deliver a clearer and more readable message. Use apostrophe + s for the following:

  • Singular nouns that show possession.
  • Plural nouns not ending in S that indicate possession.
  • Creating a contraction for a word + is.

Meanwhile, use s + apostrophe for the following:

  • Plural nouns ending in S.
  • Multi-syllable singular nouns ending in S.

Take the test below to see if you’re ready to use ‘s and s’ in a sentence!

Test Your Knowledge