Apostrophes, Part One: Don’t Get Possessive with Your Plurals


In the previous post I gave you a test. Replace each (?) with the appropriate word from the following list.

 I know (?) no way that Porsche could be (?).

  1. their’s

  2. theirs

  3. there’s

  4. theres

  5. they’re’s

  6. they’res

Answer: I know there’s no way that Porsche could be theirs.

How would you know this if I didn’t provide usage notes on the contraction there’s vs. the possessive pronoun theirs?

Recall that the possessive pronoun your doesn’t use an apostrophe. That’s because the apostrophe-s is for possessive nouns, not pronouns.

If that seems a little odd to you, remember that the use of an apostrophe-s to indicate possession is a convention almost unique to English. It’s handy, for sure, and it saves words; most of our sister languages have to use a prepositional phrase to indicate possession: la cabra del Presidente (literally, “the goat of the President”) rather than the President’s…

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