How Do I Use Apostrophes to Make Words Possessive?

How do I make singular words possessive?

Answer: Add an apostrophe and an –s

J.K. Rowling, creator and author of the Harry Potter books, was not as poor as perhaps the media has made her out to be when she was writing the first Harry Potter book, but she was a single mother who did lack money. One day, she visited another mother whose boy was roughly the same age as J.K.’s daughter. That little boy had a room full of toys, and J.K. remembers, “When I packed Jessica’s toys away, they fitted into a shoe box, literally. I came home and cried my eyes out.” Those feelings of depression are the kind that the Dementors give in the Harry Potter books.

Also OK: When the singular word ends in –s, add an apostrophe only

Progressive journalist Molly Ivins’ name was actually Mary. The nickname “Molly” came from her childhood habit of burrowing like a mole among the books in her bedroom. She was a true original, once naming a dog “Sh*t”—I suppose for reasons that would be obvious if I had been acquainted with the dog. She was a master of the comic putdown, once writing about politician Dick Armey, “If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drilling rights on that man’s head.”

How do I make plural words possessive?

Answer, part 1: If the word does not end in -s, add an apostrophe and an –s

Children do strange things sometimes. When he was a child, Will Hobbs, author of such young people’s novels as Beardance, bought a ticket to a movie, and then he stood in line. When the doors opened, the line moved forward, but when young Will reached the ticket-taker, he discovered that he had been chewing on his ticket, turning it into a spitball.

Answer, part 1: If the word does end in -s, add an apostrophe only

When author George Plimpton was a kid, he admired New York Giants’ ace pitcher Carl Hubbell, who had thrown so many screwballs that he was deformed—his palm turned to the outside. Young George used to walk with his palm turned to the outside, hoping that people would think that he threw screwballs, but his father made him stop. Mr. Plimpton says, “He said it looked as if I had tumbled out a window and my parents didn’t have enough money to set the broken arm properly.

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