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What Are The Rules For Adding An Apostrophe Plus An S To Words?

The rules for showing possession—that is, owning, having, or belonging to something—in English grammar can be extremely frustrating. Here are three general rules.

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Other definitions for s (2 of 19)

s2

Symbol.
second.

Other definitions for s (3 of 19)

's1

an ending used in writing to represent the possessive morpheme after most singular nouns, some plural nouns, especially those not ending in a letter or combination of letters representing an s or z sound, noun phrases, and noun substitutes, as in man's, women's, baby's, James's, witness's, (or witness'), king of England's, or anyone's.

Origin of 's

1
Middle English -es,Old English

Other definitions for s (4 of 19)

's2

contraction of is:She's here.
contraction of does:What's he do for a living now?
contraction of has:He's just gone.

usage note for 's

Other definitions for s (5 of 19)

's3

Archaic.
a contraction of God's, as in 'swounds; 'sdeath; 'sblood.

Other definitions for s (6 of 19)

's4

a contraction of us, as in Let's go.

usage note for 's

Other definitions for s (7 of 19)

's5

a contraction of as, as in so's to get there on time.

Other definitions for s (8 of 19)

S1

or s

[ es ]
/ ɛs /

noun, plural S's or Ss, s's or ss.
the 19th letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.
any spoken sound represented by the letter S or s, as in saw, sense, or goose.
something having the shape of an S.
a written or printed representation of the letter S or s.
a device, as a printer's type, for reproducing the letter S or s.

Other definitions for s (9 of 19)

S2

abbreviation

Other definitions for s (10 of 19)

S3

Symbol.

Other definitions for s (11 of 19)

-s1

a native English suffix used in the formation of adverbs: always; betimes; needs; unawares.
Compare -ways.

Origin of -s

1
Middle English -es,Old English; ultimately identical with 's1

Other definitions for s (12 of 19)

-s2

an ending marking the third person singular indicative active of verbs: walks.

Origin of -s

2
Middle English (north) -(e)s,Old English (north); originally ending of 2nd person singular, as in Latin and Greek; replacing Middle English, Old English -eth-eth1

Other definitions for s (13 of 19)

-s3

an ending marking nouns as plural (boys; wolves), occurring also on nouns that have no singular (dregs; entrails; pants; scissors), or on nouns that have a singular with a different meaning (clothes; glasses; manners; thanks). The pluralizing value of -s3 is weakened or lost in a number of nouns that now often take singular agreement, as the names of games (billiards; checkers; tiddlywinks) and of diseases (measles; mumps; pox; rickets); the latter use has been extended to create informal names for a variety of involuntary conditions, physical or mental (collywobbles; d.t.'s; giggles; hots; willies). A parallel set of formations, where -s3 has no plural value, are adjectives denoting socially unacceptable or inconvenient states (bananas; bonkers; crackers; nuts; preggers; starkers); cf. -ers.
Also -es.

Origin of -s

3
Middle English -(e)s,Old English -as, plural nominative and accusative ending of some masculine nouns

Other definitions for s (14 of 19)

-s4

a suffix of hypocoristic nouns, generally proper names or forms used only in address: Babs; Fats; Suzykins; Sweetums; Toodles.

Origin of -s

4
Probably from the metonymic use of nouns formed with -s3, as boots or Goldilocks

Other definitions for s (15 of 19)

s.

abbreviation

Other definitions for s (16 of 19)

S.1

abbreviation
(in prescriptions) mark; write; label.

Origin of S.

1
From the Latin word signa

Other definitions for s (17 of 19)

S.2

abbreviation
(in prescriptions) let it be written.

Origin of S.

2
From the Latin word signētur

Other definitions for s (18 of 19)

S.3

abbreviation
Fellow.

Origin of S.

3
From the Latin word socius

Other definitions for s (19 of 19)

S.4

abbreviation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use s in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for s (1 of 10)

s

symbol for
second (of time)

British Dictionary definitions for s (2 of 10)

s

S

/ (ɛs) /

noun plural s's, S's or Ss
the 19th letter and 15th consonant of the modern English alphabet
a speech sound represented by this letter, usually an alveolar fricative, either voiceless, as in sit, or voiced, as in dogs
  1. something shaped like an S
  2. (in combination)an S-bend in a road

British Dictionary definitions for s (3 of 10)

S

symbol for
abbreviation for
Sweden (international car registration)

British Dictionary definitions for s (4 of 10)

-'s

suffix
forming the possessive singular of nouns and some pronounsman's; one's
forming the possessive plural of nouns whose plurals do not end in -schildren's
forming the plural of numbers, letters, or symbols20's; p's and q's
informal contraction of is or hashe's here; John's coming; it's gone
informal contraction of us with letlet's
informal contraction of does in some questionswhere's he live?; what's he do?

Word Origin for -'s

senses 1, 2: assimilated contraction from Middle English -es, from Old English, masculine and neuter genitive singular; sense 3, equivalent to -s 1

British Dictionary definitions for s (5 of 10)

-s'

suffix
forming the possessive of plural nouns ending in the sound s or z and of some singular nounsgirls'; for goodness' sake

British Dictionary definitions for s (6 of 10)

-s1

-es


suffix
forming the plural of most nounsboys; boxes

Word Origin for -s

from Old English -as, plural nominative and accusative ending of some masculine nouns

British Dictionary definitions for s (7 of 10)

-s2

-es


suffix
forming the third person singular present indicative tense of verbshe runs; she washes

Word Origin for -s

from Old English (northern dialect) -es, -s, originally the ending of the second person singular

British Dictionary definitions for s (8 of 10)

-s3

suffix
forming nicknames and names expressing affection or familiarityFats; Fingers; ducks

Word Origin for -s

special use of -s 1

British Dictionary definitions for s (9 of 10)

s.

abbreviation for
see
semi-
shilling
singular
son
succeeded

British Dictionary definitions for s (10 of 10)

S.

abbreviation for
plural SS Saint
school
Sea
Signor
Society

Word Origin for S.

Latin socius
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for s (1 of 2)

s

abbr.
semis (half)
sinister (left)

Medical definitions for s (2 of 2)

S

The symbol for the elementsulfur
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for s (1 of 2)

s

Abbreviation of second (of time), second (of an arc)
The symbol for strangeness.

Scientific definitions for s (2 of 2)

S

The symbol for sulfur.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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