We use a noun with ’s with a singular noun to show possession:

We are having a party at John’s house.
Michael drove his friend’s car.

We use s’ with a plural noun ending in -s:

This is my parents’ house.
Those are ladies’ shoes.

But we use ’s with other plural nouns:

These are men’s shoes.
Children’s clothes are very expensive.

We can use a possessive instead of a noun phrase to avoid repeating words:

 

Is that John’s car?   No, it’s Mary’s [car]. > No, it’s Mary’s.
Whose coat is this?   It’s my wife’s [coat]. > It’s my wife’s.

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi,

If I have three or more nouns (e.g. persons) sharing possession of an item or items, would it be right to say that the apostrophe is only added to the last noun, as in the following:
"Dick, Mary, Charlene and Tim's car" ?

Also, under the same scenario where again all parties share possession of the same item or items, and should my phrase involve a personal pronoun, would it be right to say that the apostrophe is added only to the last noun before the personal pronoun, as in:
"Charmaine, Henry, Nic's and my last day at work"?

Appreciate your advice on the above, please.

Thanks!

Regards,
Tim

Hello Tim,

Both of your suppositions here are correct. Well done.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teachers,
Can I use "of which' as possessive form for inanimate object. For example, can I combine these 2 sentences
"I put the book on the table. The legs of the the table are almost broken" into
" I put the book on the table, the legs of which are almost broken"?
Thank you

Hello again Kaisoo93,

It is unusual to use 'of which' in this way. I'd recommend rephrasing the sentence with an adjectival prepositional phrase, e.g. 'I put the book on the table with the legs that are almost broken' or '... with the damaged legs'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
Thanks for your answer.

Hello. I have a question related to the usage of the possessive 's.
I read this example:
'The moon is Earth's satellite.'
But I know that we can't use the possessive 's with inanimate objects. So, why do we use the possessive 's in this case? Which ones are the exceptions to the rule?

Hello Daniel H,

I'm not sure where you heard that 's cannot be used with inanimate objects. It is perfectly fine to do so:

This is my house's bathroom.

I went through the university's main entrance.

The knife's edge was blunt.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Oh, I see. Well I read it just here; Mr. Kirk was replying to somebody about the usage of possessive 's:
https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/es/comment/104482#comment-104482.
He was explaining that it is correct to say 'Frogs' legs' but not 'Car's door'.
I quote:
"That's very observant of you! The difference between 'the car's door' and 'frogs' legs' is that a car is an inanimate object and frogs are animals. In other words, 's is most often used with people, animals or groups of living beings, and not with inanimate objects."
But he has also said that it is not a hard and fast rule, so I guess that is the reason why in some cases we can use the possessive 's with inanimate objects and why in some others not. I do really apreciate your help, your response clarifies it more for me.

Hello Daniel H,

Kirk's comment was about a tendency rather than a rule. Certain items tend to use an adjective form rather than 's, and so we talk about a car engine, a car door, the car boot (trunk), the car radio etc. These tend to be inanimate object, as Kirk said. Unfortunately there is no rule to describe this; it is a question of convention and typical use.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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