Grammar Lesson: Possessives

grammar-lessonAh, possessives. No, we’re not talking about too-clingy boyfriends, though we could all throw one of those stories onto the fire, amiright? No, today’s lesson is the all-important one about turning a humble noun into a noun that HAS something.

Here, in a nutshell*, is what we’re going to learn: John’s book, Nicholas’s tattoo, the women’s accomplishments, the teamsters’ concerns.

Case One: Singular nouns that don’t end in S. To form the possessive, simply add an apostrophe and an S. Thus, the book that belongs to John becomes John’s book. The meow of the cat becomes the cat’s meow. The car that belongs to Ashish: Ashish’s car. The suit of that ace: the ace’s suit. (It doesn’t matter if the noun ends in an S sound. Same rule.)

Case Two: Singular nouns that end in S. Sing it with me: “Second verse, same as the first!” To form the possessive, simply add an apostrophe and an S. Look at that—two cases, one rule. The tattoo that Nicholas has becomes Nicholas’s tattoo. The bray of that ass: the ass’s bray. I’m not trying to be funny here—it’s a good example! Lots of esses. (Esses? Okay, we’ll have to tackle that sometime.)

Case Three: Plural nouns that don’t end in S. Aren’t they pesky, those plural-but-not-plural-looking nouns? Men, women, hippopotami, bacilli, fish? But again, sing it with me: “Third verse, same as the first and second!” To form the possessive, simply add an apostrophe and an S. Women’s accomplishments, hippopotami’s teeth, fish’s wariness.

Case Four: Plural nouns that end in S. Ah, here’s the rub. What do you do with the concerns of teamsters, or the duplicity of those politicians we love to hate? Here’s where the new rule comes in: To form the possessive, simply add an apostrophe. Then stop. So…the teamsters’ concerns, the politicians’ duplicity.

Here’s a summary—and really, there are only two rules. How nice is that?
To form the possessive of a singular noun, whether it ends in S or not, and a plural noun that doesn’t end in S, simply add an apostrophe and an S.
To form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in S, simply add an apostrophe.

And here’s the payoff—how this relates to Emmaus Ministries:
The volunteer training sessions that Emmaus provides = Emmaus’s volunteer training.
The mission of Emmaus Ministries = Emmaus Ministries’ mission.

Easy, right?! You’re welcome!

 

*An appropriate receptacle.**

**I stole that little witticism. I don’t know from where or whom.

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