Genitive Case - Apostrophe S in English

The Apostrophe S - ('S)

Possessive Case - Genitive Case

Also called the possessive case, the genitive case is when we add apostrophe S (’s) to show possession, that something belongs to another or a type of relationship between things.
e.g. Woodward’s house, Your brother’s friend

The meaning of X’s Y is:
= The Y of X
= The Y belonging to X (Y is normally a thing)
= The Y which has some relation with X (Y is often a person)

The Rules:

We normally use the ’s with people, animals though it can also be used with places, organizations and companies (which suggest a group of people).

It is not common to use the ’s with non-living things.

1. Singular nouns

add 's (apostrophe S)

2. Plural nouns ending in –s

only add the apostrophe ' (without the S)

Notice that the pronunciation is the same for certain possessives:

You can usually distinguish whether the speaker is referring to one or two friends by listening to the context of what the speaker says.

3. Plural nouns not ending in –s:

add 's

4. Singular noun ending in –s:

It depends…
a. Most names: add  's (apostrophe S)

b. Classical or religious names: add ' (only the apostrophe)

5. Possessive nouns as part of a phrase

Sometimes more than one word/noun is a possessive. The same rules as above are still valid:

If there are two owners of something, we add 's to the final name:

But, if each person owns a car, then add 's to both names:

Notice how the verb is in plural form.

6. No Noun

If the meaning is clear, we can use the possessive without a noun after it.

Apostrophe S Summary Chart

Apostrophe S, Genitive Case, Possessive Case

Next activity

See our other, more complete lesson about Apostrophe S - Possessive Nouns which is part of our free English course and a NEW updated version of the chart above.

Pronunciation Rules:
See how to pronounce the S at the end of words.

If you found this grammar guide about Apostrophe S ('s) in English useful, let others know about it:

Grammar Notes

A variety of English grammar notes and rules including charts and examples for beginner to advanced level students.

Learn Grammar

Grammar Games

Improve your English with our interactive English grammar games. There are many different topics and levels.

Play our Games

Connect with us

Woodward English on Facebook Woodward English on Twitter Woodward English on YouTube Woodward English on Instagram Woodward English on Pinterest Woodward English on Twitch