Singular Possessive Nouns

by Amber Carlson
Singular possessive nouns arise often in everyday spoken and written English

Singular possessive nouns arise often in everyday spoken and written English

Using nouns correctly may seem like an easy task. Using possessive nouns correctly can be much more challenging, especially in written form. Those who are uneducated about the correct usage of possessive case often put the apostrophe in the wrong location -- a costly blunder, since some employers will not consider a job applicant whose resume contains spelling or grammar errors. It is important to know and correctly write commonly used singular possessive nouns.


When a noun stands for one thing, it is singular. Examples of singular nouns include mother, bat and store. When a singular noun shows ownership or possession of another noun, it is called a singular possessive noun. Possessive case is shown by adding an apostrophe and the letter s to the end of the possessive noun. For example, “the books owned by the boy” becomes “the boy's books," with “boy's” being the singular possessive noun.

Singular Possessive Common Nouns

A common noun is one that names a thing, place or type of person. Common nouns -- which are not capitalized -- become possessive when they show ownership of another noun. For example, “the water in the town” becomes “the town's water." Other examples of singular possessive common nouns include “girl's dress,” “book's cover,” “teacher's class,” “city's government,” “car's engine” and “country's flag.”

Singular Possessive Proper Nouns

A proper noun -- which tells the special or specific name of a person, place, thing or company – is capitalized. A proper noun becomes possessive when it shows ownership of another noun. For example, “the house owned by the Carlson family” becomes “the Carlson family's house.” Other examples of proper singular possessive nouns include “Microsoft's CEO,” “Wednesday's lunch,” “New York's mayor,” “Amber's dog” and “England's anthem.”

Singular Possessive Nouns Ending in 'S'

Some singular nouns, usually names, already end in the letter s. When these nouns become possessive, they do not always need an additional s. This usually occurs with proper nouns like Jesus, which would sound awkward with an additional s. The rule for these types of possessive nouns is simply to add an apostrophe. For example, “the teachings of Jesus” becomes “Jesus' teachings.” Other examples include “Moses' laws,” “Sophocles' plays,” “Socrates' philosophies,” and “Dr. Seuss' stories.”

About the Author

Amber Carlson has been writing professionally since 2006. She is a freelance writer and blogger out of Boise, Idaho, who specializes in education, pregnancy, fashion, cooking and parenthood. Carlson received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in reading from the University of Idaho.

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