Apostrophe after Z (with Examples)

by Craig Shrives
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Apostrophe after Z

This page is about whether to use 's (apostrophe s) or just ' (just an apostrophe) to show the possessive form of a noun that ends with a z. In other words, it is about whether to write:
  • Gomez' attitude, or
  • Gomez's attitude

Forming the Possessive with a Noun Ending Z

Here is the quick answer:

The Rule

Use 's to show the possessive form of a singular noun ending z.
  • Gomez' attitude wrong cross
  • Gomez's attitude correct tick
This question often arises when writers need to form a possessive from a surname ending ez. For example:
  • Gomez's ball correct tick
  • Gonzalez's house correct tick
  • Gutierrez's brother correct tick
  • Hernandez's dog correct tick
  • Lopez's way correct tick
  • Perez's garden correct tick
(NB: With Hispanic surname, the suffix –ez means "descendant of.")

Some More Examples with an Apostrophe after Z

Here are some more examples of nouns ending z in the possessive case:
  • These are Dr. Sanchez's patients. correct tick
  • The questions are full of unpronounceable words because the quiz's real purpose is to embarrass the host. correct tick
apostrophe after z

Why Is There Confusion over Z's and Z'?

Confusion arises because the possessive form of singular nouns that end s (e.g., Moses, series, Wales) can be shown by adding 's or just '.

The general rule for those nouns is write their possessive forms how you would pronounce them. For example:
  • Jones' report is terrible. correct tick
  • (This is for those people who pronounce it Jones.)
  • Jones's report is terrible. correct tick
  • (This is for those people who pronounce it Jonesiz.)
With the possessive form of a noun that ends in z, there is no choice. It will have the ziz sound at the end. Therefore, the -z's ending is needed to tell readers how to pronounce it. Read more about the possessive forms of singular nouns ending s.

The Possessive Form of a Plural Noun Ending Z

The plural of a noun ending z is formed by adding es. Sometimes, the z is doubled before the es is added. This is standard. For example:
  • quiz becomes quizzes
  • topaz becomes topazes
  • Mr. Lopez is the father of the Lopezes
The possessive form of such plurals is formed by adding just an apostrophe to the end. This too is standard. For example:
  • The quizzes' origins are well documented.
  • (This relates to "the origins of several quizzes" (i.e., quizzes is plural).)
  • The Lopezes' dog has been found.
  • (This relates to "the dog of the Lopez family" (i.e., Lopezes is plural).)

The History of the Possessive Apostrophe

The main function of the apostrophe is to replace a missing letter (e.g., aren't, don't). You might not have realized it, but this is related to the possessive apostrophe. (e.g., Sarah's house, the robbers' haul)

In old English, possession was shown by adding "es" to the noun regardless of whether it was singular or plural. For example:
  • doges dinner
  • dogses dinner
  • childrenes dinner
  • Sanchezes dinner
Over time, the e was replaced by an apostrophe, and, if that left an ending of -s's, then the second s was removed.

If you use this process today, you will be right every time. There are no exceptions.

A Simple, 100% Safe Method

(1) Add ' to the possessor
(2) Now add an s, but only if the word doesn't end in an s.

This works for everything! (Watch a short video explaining this technique.)
Read more about using apostrophes.

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See Also

Using apostrophes Apostrophes for possession Apostrophe placement rules Apostrophe after s Apostrophe before s Apostrophes for awkward plurals Apostrophes after acronyms and abbreviations Apostrophes in contractions Apostrophes in expressions like 2 years' pay and a day's notice Apostrophes used incorrectly for plurals Apostrophe exercises Apostrophes in names Apostrophe misuse Apostrophes in contractions Using brackets and parentheses Using colons Using commas Using dashes Using hyphens Using quotation marks Using semicolons "Apostrophes for possession" game (Tetris-style game) "Apostrophes in time expressions" game (Tetris-style game)