Nouns have a possessive form. We use it to show ownership.
To show the possessive form, put an apostrophe (') and an s – 's – after a singular noun
- This is my dog and that is Tom's cat.
- The child is pulling the cow's tail.
- Everybody's shoes must be left outside the door.
- We all like the church's teaching on forgiveness.
Use an apostrophe and an s ('s) after plural nouns that do not end in s to make the possessive form
- The plane's tail section had broken off.
- This is the second attempt on the president's life.
- Some people's houses in the neighbourhood are bigger than ours.
- He cut off the mice's tails.
When making plural possessive nouns which end with an s, add only an apostrophe
- The girls' mother is taller than the boys' mother.
- Their wives' parents were present in the Christmas celebrations.
- The strong winds destroyed all the villagers' houses.
- He had three days' moustache growth drooping over his mouth.
Two possessive forms ('s)may appear one after the other
- She is Jim's brother's girlfriend.
- This is Tom's car and that is Tom's father's car.
- Jane's dog's bushy tail wags furiously when she arrives home.
When two nouns/names that are joined together are joint owners, the possessive form should take an 's after the second name only
- On that hill is Jack and Jill's house. (The house belongs to both Jack and Jill)
- Paul and Paula's mother is a doctor.
When two nouns (names) that are joined together have different ownership, each will need an apostrophe s ('s) added
- Adam's and Eve's cars are parked one behind the other.
- The police are keeping watch on the suspect's and his accomplice's houses.
When a name ends in s, the possessive form can take either an apostrophe and an s ('s) or only an apostrophe
- This is a portrait of King Charles's wife.
- This is a portrait of King Charles' wife.
- My uncle James's factory was burnt down last night.
- My uncle James' factory was burnt down last night.
Only an apostrophe and an s ('s) is used when the place of business is understood and thus not stated
- He went to the barber's to have his hair cut.
- She was at the butcher's when I called her.
When an apostrophe is not used
It's your turn to make the dinner. = It is your turn to make the dinner.
To show possession, do not use an apostrophe
- The dog is licking its paw. (The paw belongs to the dog as indicated by the possessive its.)
- It flapped its wings and flew off.
- Their house has its own swimming pool.