Possessive vs. plural

Mrs. Bluezette's Grammar Corner

Possessive vs. Plural by Mrs. B

I got into so much trouble in the 7th grade for correcting my English teacher right there in front of the whole class in Tullahoma, Tennessee. I think I was just showing off, over-achiever that I was, but word spread quickly around West Junior High that the preacher's daughter had gotten a detention. Even worse, my mother drove me over to Mrs. Ayers' home that evening and made me apologize to her in her sick bed. I was convinced I had put her there with my disrespectful behavior.

It was a pivotal event in my life. That was the last time I corrected anyone in public. So I'm hesitant to go there again, but my mother doesn't read Bluezette, So here goes.

The difference between possessive and plural. That's the subject of today's Grammar Corner.

Plural means more than one. You do not need an apostrophe to make a noun (whether common or proper) plural.

  • (singular) pro
  • (plural) pros
  • (singular) James
  • (plural) Jameses

To make a singular noun (or proper noun) possessive, add an apostrophe s (or just an apostrophe if the word ends in an "s." )

  • (possessive singular) pro's
  • (possessive singular) James's

To make a plural noun (or proper noun) possessive, add an apostrophe.

  • (possessive plural) pros'
  • (possessive plural) Jameses'

Here're some examples, in context:

"Home video cameras have created a massive army of people who end up covering news, sometimes better than the pro's, simply because they happen to be some place where news is breaking."

"Pro's" should be "pros." The writer is talking about more than one pro. The apostrophe is unnecessary because there's no possession involved. If this were the sentence, there would be:

"The pro's camera probably cost more than the amateur's."

Or a plural example (if there is more than one pro):

"The news director looked at the pros' tapes first."

Now for the proper noun example:

"You're an idiot...my 18 years versus Jame's 2 1/2 months."

"James" is the proper noun. To make it possessive, put the apostrophe at the end:

"You're an idiot... my 18 years versus James' 2 1/2 months."

Once my father had a sign painted to hang on a post in front of the parsonage on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston, West Virginia. It read:

"The Walter's Family"

The sign should have read:

"The Walters Family"

Recently a Mrs. Bluezette reader wrote:

"I wish you would write an article about plural surnames and proper/improper use of the apostrophe. 'The Reagan's' is painted on a sign they actually had on their rural mailbox."

You now know, of course, it should be:

"The Reagans"

Isn't grammar fun?

I hope I don't get a detention this time.

The copyright for this particular article belongs to Digital Commerce, Inc. Article by Mona Scott, NewsBlues.com.