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Etymology 1Edit



’s (clitic)

  1. contracted form of is
    The dog’s running after me!
  2. contracted form of has
    The dog’s been chasing the mail carrier again.
  3. (informal) contracted form of does (used only with the auxiliary meaning of does and only after interrogative words)
    What’s he do for a living?
    What's it say?
  4. (nonstandard) are
    Where’s the table tennis balls?



  1. Contracted form of us found in the formula let’s used to form first-person plural imperatives. Let’s is now considered as a compound.
    What are you guys waiting for? Let’s go!
  2. (nonstandard, UK dialect) Contracted form of as in its nonstandard use as a relative pronoun.
    All’s he wanted was to go home.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English -s, -es, from Old English -es (-'s, masculine and neuter genitive singular ending), from Proto-Germanic *-as, *-is (masculine and neuter genitive singular ending). Cognate with Dutch -s, -es (-'s), German -s, -es (-'s), Danish -s, -es (-'s).



  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)
    • 2012 April 15, Phil McNulty, “Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea”, BBC:
      Before kick-off, a section of Chelsea’s support sadly let themselves and their club down by noisily interrupting the silence held in memory of the Hillsborough disaster and for Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who collapsed and died after suffering a heart attack during a Serie B game on Saturday.
  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 got my shotgun at Walmart's.
Usage notesEdit

Usage with words ending in “s” varies and can be confusing.

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
  • In current usage, the final “s” is sometimes dropped after proper names ending in “s”. This may reflect variations in pronunciation, or be an instance of (or case of confusion due to) the Biblical/classical name rule. In print, ambiguity can result, because s’ is also used to indicate a plural noun.
St. James’s or St. James’
(Where, technically, St. James’ could be read to indicate more than one St. James.)
  • 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 strictly correct form is with the possessive of each person:
Jack’s and Jill’s pails
However, it is common to treat the pair of names as a noun phrase and to form its possessive instead, using only one ’s:
Jack and Jill’s pails



  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.
Usage notesEdit

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 3Edit

Equivalent to -s, with arbitrary use of apostrophe.



  1. (usage problem) Used to form the plurals of numerals, letters, some abbreviations 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”.[1]
  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
Usage notesEdit

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.[1]

The use of the apostrophe in any other plural (as in “apple’s”) — the so-called “greengrocer’s apostrophe” — is incorrect.


See -s

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Truss, Lynn. Eats, Shoots & Leaves. pp. 63–65.




  1. Contraction of se.





’s; clitic form of des, genitive of masculine and neuter article singular de and het

  1. Used in ’s ochtends, ’s morgens, ’s middags, ’s avonds, ’s nachts, ’s zomers, and ’s winters.
  2. Used in place names such as ’s-Gravenhage and ’s-Hertogenbosch.
  3. Used to construct the following kind of noun phrase: ’s werelds + {superlative_adjective} + {noun}
    ’s werelds beste reisbestemming — the world’s best travel destination
    ’s werelds mooiste zeereis — the world’s most beautiful sea voyage


's pl

  1. Used to form the plural form of nouns ending in a vowel, except schwa.
    fotofoto’s (instead of fotoos)
    taxitaxi’s (instead of taxies)
  2. Used to form the genitive form of proper nouns which end in certain vowels; the apostrophe actually stands for an elided vowel.
    AnnaAnna’s (instead of Annaas)



  1. Short for eens




  1. Contraction of es.

Scottish GaelicEdit



  1. Shortened form of is.

Derived termsEdit



  1. Shortened form of is.
  2. Shortened form of agus.
Last modified on 17 April 2014, at 13:08