Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

Learning Support Services

The Writer’s Reference Book


Module 17 – The -s Marker in Writing – Hint Sheet

  • Plurals – The -s marker is used to indicate plurals, more than one thing: three birds most problems two kinds some traps those guys many pencils several goals the books
  • Possession – The -s marker is used to indicate possession, which shows ownership of something.
    • Belonging to one person or thing: Jack’s sister, the tree’s roots, Jill’s loss, the dog’s paw
    • Belonging to two or more people or things: my classmates’ assignment, the Jones’ house, three boys’ boots, two dogs’ owners
    • To make a plural noun possessive, write the word and then add an apostrophe. If it doesn’t end in -s, add ’s.
      • three neighbors’ yards (Write neighbors; add ’.)
      • the children’s school (Write children; add ’s.)
      • the women’s job (Write women; add ’s.)
      • Rule: Write the word that is the possessive. If it doesn’t end in -s, add ’s. If it does end in ’s, add ’ only.
        Note: Personal pronouns do not use apostrophes:
        • The storm expended its fury.
        • The book was hers.
  • Contractions – Use an apostrophe in contractions:
      • It’s a zoo in there.
      • Who’s going to the dance?
    • Common contractions:
      • I’m (I am), you’re (you are), they’re (they are)
      • it’s (it is), we’ve (we have), who’s (who is)
      • he’s (he is), she’s (she is), can’t (can not)
      • isn’t (is not), couldn’t (could not), won’t (will not)
  • Subject-Verb Agreement – The -s marker is used to make verbs agree with singular subjects in the present tense.
    • He goes. She goes. It goes.
    • He walks. She walks. It walks.
    • He tries. She tries. It tries.
    • Rule: In the present tense, if the subject is a he, she or it, then the verb must have an -s.
      • Mary (she) arrives soon.
      • The man (he) seems nice.
      • The car (it) is damaged.
facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff socialoff