Preparing to Write: Possessives and Plurals – Writing Better English » Luyện thi Gò Vấp
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Possessives and Plurals 

English possessives of nouns are usually formed in two ways: (1) by placing of before a noun or (2) by adding -’s to the noun. The preposition of tends to be used with inanimate objects, and -’s tends to be used with people or living things. But often either one can be used. Look at these examples: 

the color of the car, the car’s color the depth of the river, the river’s depth the face of a man, a man’s face the roar of the lion, the lion’s roar 

  • The ending -’s is used for most singular nouns. But if a singular noun already ends in -s, just add an apostrophe to make it possessive (Mr. Jones’ car, Chris’ house). However, an apostrophe with an -s can also be used (Mr. Jones’s car, Chris’s house). Some examples of words that can take either form of the possessive follow. 
Boss Boss’ Boss’s
Class Class’ Class’s
Gas Gas’ Gas’s
Miss Miss’ Miss’s
  • Most plural nouns already end in -s. In that case, just add an apostrophe (two boys’ bikes, those girls’ books). But some plural nouns are irregular. These form their possessive by adding -s, but the meaning is still plural. 

one goose                  two geese                two geese’s eggs 

one man                    two men                  two men’s suits 

one woman               five women            five women’s shoes 

one mouse                ten mice                  ten mice’s babie

  • Plurals are formed very simply in English: add -s or -es to most words. If a word ends in -s, -z, -sh, -x, or -ch, add -es for the plural. When a word ends in -y, it tends to form the plural by changing -y to -i and adding -es (candy, candies; lady, ladies; penny, pennies). There are some exceptions to that rule, for example, when -y follows a vowel (buy, buys; key, keys; joy, joys). In all other cases, form the plural with -s. Some examples: 

bus, buses buzz, buzzes wash, washes box, boxes perch, perches baby, babies laundry, laundries country, countries try, tries job, jobs kid, kids song, songs ladder, ladders shipment, shipments 

  • The list of irregular plurals is quite short: child, children; foot, feet; goose, geese; man, men; mouse, mice; ox, oxen; person, people; tooth, teeth; woman, women. 
  • Here’s a simple rule for knowing whether a word is used as a plural or a possessive: plurals end in -s. Possessives end in -’s or -s’. 
  • Look what happens to definite (the) and indefinite (a, an) articles when a noun changes from singular to plural: 

the boy, the boys the clock, the clocks a river, rivers an apple, apples 

The indefinite article in the plural is dropped, and the plural word stands alone. The difference between the definite and indefinite article usage is the same for both the singular and plural. The definite article is specific—a certain person or thing that you are thinking about (the man, the car, the problems). The indefinite article defines a word as unspecific—it is anyperson or thing (a man,a car, problems).


Exercise 1 In the following, change the italicized words to the correct form of possessive. 

1.The young man _____________________ friend was very sick.

2. The dark brown _____________________ her eyeswas beautiful.

3. I hope the jury _____________________ verdict is fair.

4. They couldn’t hear the captain _____________________ commands.

5.The women _____________________ calls for help went unheard.

6. She didn’t understand the meaning _____________________ his words.

7.Our teams _____________________ records were really poor.

8. This year our team _____________________ playing was much improved.

9. The economy _____________________ these countries is growing.

10. Thomas _____________________ father is a carpenter.

Exercise 2 Rewrite the sentences and change all italicized nouns to the plu-ral. Don’t forget to change verbs and other words wherever necessary.
  1. The goose had laid a golden egg. 
  2. My uncle bought the house at the edge of town. 
  3. The church was damaged by the storm. 
  4. soldier carried the helpless infant to safety. 
  5. Did the woman find her child? 
  6. A strange man came up to the window and looked in. 
  7. Their boss is going to fire the new employee. 
  8. A large board fell on Juan and broke his foot. 
  9. The city is too far from the factory. 
  10. The nurse covered the patient with a heavy blanket. 
  11. Our neighbor needs the tool right now. 
  12. Whose child gave you that magazine? 
  13. We saw the stranger in the back room. 
  14. The dentist has to pull the infected tooth. 
  15. Don’t break the dish! 
Exercise 3 Look at the phrases in parentheses ( ). Decide which phrase best completes each sentence. 
  1. (The boys, The boy’s, The boys’) The girls have tents on the other side of the lake. _____________________ tents are here. 
  2. (the animals, the animal’s) I looked at _____________________ in such small cages and felt sad. 
  3.  (your parents, your parents’) Is this _____________________ new house?
  4. (the man, the men, the men’s) Can you tell me where _____________________ room is?
  5. (Mr. Roberts, Mr. Roberts’) _____________________ daughter now lives inSeattle.
  6. (of names, of names’) I found the list _____________________ in the desk drawer.
  7. (the airports, the airport’s) Why are _____________________ located so far from town?
  8. (a grown woman, grown women, the grown women’s) It’s true that _____________________ has a lot of responsibilities.
  9. (soups, of soup, the soup’s) A large bowl _____________________ costs twodollars.
  10. (eggs, the egg’s, the eggs’) The cook needs a dozen _____________________.