Apostrophes in plurals (the grocers' apostrophe)
 
Do not be tempted to use an apostrophe just because
a word ends in s.
 

Don't Add Your Own Apostrophe to a Plural Word

In English, the plural form of a word is most commonly shown by adding an s to the end (e.g., cats, pictures). You must not add your own apostrophe!

In other words, do not add 's to the end. Just add s.

The plural of words ending in vowels (e.g., video, patio) are extremely prone to this error. This is a very common mistake and is considered a grammatical howler.

Examples:

  • Dog's look up to us, and cat's look down on us. I prefer pig's they treat us as equal's. (badly transcribed version of a Sir Winston Churchill quote)

  • Anteater's prefer termite's to ant's.

  • Pearl's melt in vinegar.

  • Rent two adult video's for the price of one.

  • Three large male lion's approached the 4x4. (lions )

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarf's. (Dwarfs Actually, you could write "Dwarves" too — both are correct plurals of dwarf.)


should be cameras
(motorway sign)



should be "Ministers are very...
(newspaper article) 


  • Their board genuinely stated: "Open seven day's a week and weekend's".
    (days / weekends )

  • She fly's to New York regularly. (flies )

There are 24 applicant's waiting in the coffee room.  [correct the example]
(do not use an apostrophe just because a word ends in s)

When to Use Apostrophes

The rules on using apostrophes can be summarised:

 
THE GROCERS' APOSTROPHE

In English, the overwhelming majority of words show their plurals by adding s. Do not add your own apostrophe.

As fruit and vegetable stalls often display this error, it has come to be known as the grocers' apostrophe.

  • 2 melon's for a pound
  • 1 kg of apple's for a dollar

signs on market stalls are often
littered with apostrophe errors
 


See also:

Using apostophes
Apostrophes in time (temporal) expressions
Apostrophes replace letters
Apostrophes to show the plural of abbreviations
Apostrophes show possession


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