The Alternative English Dictionary: -'s

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Entry definition

-'s {{rfap}} pronunciation
  • (after a vowel or a voiced consonant other than a sibilant) {{enPR}}, /z/
  • (1after ''/p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, or /θ/'') {{enPR}}, /s/
  • (after other consonants)
    • (UK) {{enPR}}, /ɪz/
    • (US) {{enPR}}, /ɪz/ or {{enPR}}, /əz/
    • (AU) {{enPR}}, /əz/
etymology 1 Contractions.
verb: {{head}}
  1. form of contracted form The dog’s running after me!
  2. form of contracted form The dog’s been chasing the mail carrier again.
  3. (informal) form of contracted form (used only with the auxiliary meaning of does and only after interrogative words) What’s he do for a living? What’s it say? Where’s the n in Javanese come from?
  4. (nonstandard) are Where’s the table tennis balls?
pronoun: {{en-pron}}
  1. form of contracted form (found in the formula let’s which is used to form first-person plural imperatives) What are you guys waiting for? Let’s go!
  2. (UK, dialect) form of contracted form (when it is (nonstandardly) used as a relative pronoun) All’s he wanted was to go home.
etymology 2 From Middle English -s, -es, from Old English -es, from Proto-Germanic *-as, *-is. Cognate with Dutch -s, -es, German -s, -es, Danish -s, -es.
particle: {{en-part}}
  1. Possessive marker, indicating than an object belongs to the noun phrase bearing the marker. The cat bit the dog’s tail and ran. (the dog + ’s) The cat bit the dog with the shaggy fur’s tail and ran. (the dog with the shaggy fur + ’s)
    • {{quote-news }}
  2. In the absence of a specified object, used to indicate “the house/place/establishment of”. We’re going to Luigi’s for dinner tonight. — that is, “Luigi’s house” or “Luigi’s restaurant” I'm going to the butcher’s for a steak. I bought it at Tesco's. (see ''s-form'')
Words ending in s are made possessive in various ways. Consider:[[w:William Strunk|William Strunk]] & [[w:E.B._White|E. B. White]], ''[[w:The_Elements_of_Style|The Elements of Style]]'' (1972), [[s:The_Elements_of_Style/Rules#1._Form_the_possessive_singular_of_nouns_with_.27s.|page 1]]
  • With regular plurals, the apostrophe is placed at the end, i.e. s' is used: the dogs’ tails (whereas for singular ‘dog’: the dog’s tail)
  • Irregular plurals with endings other than ‘s’ (e.g. children) always take ’s: the children’s voices
  • The possessives of names which end in s may be formed using either this suffix (-'s) or ' (which see for more). St. James’s or St. James’, Chris's or Chrisapos, Jesus's or Jesusapos
  • To remedy ambiguity or awkwardness in either speech or print, possessives can generally be recast using of. the tails of the dogs the paths of St. James
  • When referring to possessions of multiple people who don't share the same name, the standard, formal way to form the possessive is: Jack’s and Jill’s pails
  • However, it is common to treat the pair of names as a noun phrase and to form the possessive of this instead, using only one ’s: Jack and Jill’s pails
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. Indicates a purpose or a user. You need a driver’s licence. These are popular boy’s T-shirts. Alex can be a girl’s name.
{{rfc}} The particle ’s and the suffix ’s have the same origin but are grammatically different now.
  • particle: a girl’s name : The name of a specific girl. The particle combines with a girl.
  • suffix: a girl’s name : A female name. The suffix combines with girl.
etymology 3 Equivalent to -s, with arbitrary use of apostrophe.
suffix: {{en-suffix}}
  1. (sometimes proscribed) Used to form the plurals of numeral, letter, some abbreviation and some nouns, usually because the omission of an apostrophe would make the meaning unclear or ambiguous. There are four 3’s in my phone number. “Banana” has three a’s and one b. (apostrophe "s" used so that the plural of “a” is not confused with the word “as”) You can buy CD’s in that shop. These are the do’s and don’ts. (apostrophe "s" used as “dos” may be misread)
  2. (obsolete) Used to form plurals of foreign words, to clarify pronunciation, such as “banana’s” or “pasta’s”.[[w:Lynn Truss|Truss, Lynn]]. ''Eats, Shoots & Leaves''. pp. 63–65.
  3. (proscribed) Used to form the plural of nouns that correctly take just an "s" in the plural. See greengrocer’s apostrophe. Apple’s 50p a pound
The use of ’s to form plurals of initialisms or numerals is not currently recommended by most authorities, except when the meaning would otherwise be unclear. The use in foreign words was common before the 19th century, but is no longer accepted. The use of the apostrophe in any other plural (as in “apple’s”) — the so-called “greengrocer’s apostrophe” — is proscribed.

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