Lisa's week

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  • Lisa's week: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

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Lisa's week: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

In part 1 of this post last week, we talked about using apostrophes in the place of missing letters in contractions. D’you remember??? Yes, that’s one right there. And there too!

But today we are going to talk a little about the use of the apostrophe to signal possession. This one is a little more tricky so let’s see if we can break it down for you to make it easier to grasp.


The apostrophe is used to show that one noun belongs to another noun. This means that we use the possessive apostrophe such as “Lisa’s pen”, more than the standard German English way of expressing possession such as “the pen of Lisa”.

Singular nouns

For singular nouns, regardless of the last letter of the word, we add an apostrophe and then an “s”.

The room belonging to the girl --> the girl’s room
The daughter belonging to Liz --> Liz’s daughter
The office for the team --> the team’s office
The house belonging to James --> James’s house

When we say these out loud, we might need to add an extra “e” sound to the word so the following pronunciation would be needed: “James’(e)s” house or “Liz’(e)s” daughter.

Plural nouns

For plural nouns ending with an “s” then we just add an apostrophe after the final “s”.

The toys belonging to the (3) girls --> the girls’ toys
The flat belonging to your (2) friends --> my friends’ flat
The dog belonging to Mr and Mrs Smith --> the Smiths’ dog

For irregular plural nouns that do not end with an “s”, we add an apostrophe and an “s”.

The classroom for the children --> the children’s classroom
The changing room for the men --> the men’s changing room

Please remember that we do not need to use an apostrophe wherever you see an “s”! This is a big grammatical mistake and one that can be seen very often in the UK, even in public.

Remember that if one thing “belongs” to another, then it is more standard English to use the possessive apostrophe. Even when we have multiple relationships.

For example:

The bedroom belonging to the two daughters of the neighbour of my sister.

My sister’s neighbour’s daughters’ room.

Easy, don’t you think! Remember to use this form when talking and make sure you get that pesky little punctuation symbol in the right place when you’re writing and your English will look and sound much better.

There might be a part 3 next week as there are one or two more little uses of the useful punctuation so come back and check it out so that you have the full picture.


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)