The Apostrophe in People’s

I used the phrase “the people’s choice” in a post last week, and a couple of people thought the apostrophe was wrong. Their reasoning: people is a plural word, and therefore the apostrophe is supposed to go after the “s.” Isn’t that right?

No. The before-the-s, after-the-s rule is guaranteed to get you into trouble. I wish books would drop that explanation.

Here’s the problem: there are exceptions: men’s, women’s, children’s, and people’s. I like rules that work 100% of the time. No exceptions. So here goes:

Spell the word. Put the apostrophe after the last letter.

people

The last letter is “e.” So: people’s.

You can see more applications of this handy rule by clicking here.

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4 thoughts on “The Apostrophe in People’s

  1. Darrell Turner

    That’s a wonderful explanation, Jean. I have used the traditional method of teaching the difference between single and plural possessives for apostrophe use, but your method is much simpler.

  2. ballroomdancer Post author

    Hi, Bea!
    You need to think about spelling when you use apostrophes. “Singular” and “plural” don’t help.
    For example, my name is Jean Reynolds. I’m one person! But the apostrophe goes after the last letter of my name: Jean Reynolds‘ car (or Jean Reynolds’s car).
    Spell the word. Look for the last letter. That’s where the apostrophe goes.
    A man. A man‘s money.
    Two men. Two men’s money.
    A baby. A baby’s toys.
    Two babies. Two babies toys.
    The boss. The boss‘ office.
    Several people. Several people’s opinions.
    This “look for the last letter” trick works 100% of the time!

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