AP Style

AP style rules for possessives

If possession is nine-tenths of the law, just imagine how important correctly signifying it in your writing is.

We took at look at the AP Stylebook’s section on possessions possessives and exorcised some demons coming up with these guidelines.

plural nouns

  • not ending in s Add ‘s: “women’s rights”
  • ending in s Add only an apostrophe: “the boys’ toys”
  • plural in form, but singular in meaning Add only an apostrophe: “mathematics’ rules”
  • nouns that are the same singular and plural Treat them as plurals, even if their meaning is singular: “the two deer’s antlers”

singular nouns

  • not ending in s Add ‘s: “the boy’s toys”
  • common nouns ending in s Add ‘s: “the hostess’s table”
  • Unless the following word begins with an s, and you just add an apostrophe: “the hostess’ silver necklace”
  • proper names ending in s Add only an apostrophe: “Kansas’ doctors,” “Achilles’ heel”

Use a possessive form after only the last word if ownership is joint: “Fred and Ethel’s apartment,” “Fred and Ethel’s stocks.”

Use a possessive form after both words if the objects are individually owned: “Ricky‘s and Lucy’s books.”

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