Unit 75. … ‘s (apostrophe s) and … of…


We normally use ‘s when the first noun is a person or an animal:

the manager’s office (not the office of the manager)
Mr. Evans’s daughter the horse’s tail a police officer’s hat

Otherwise (with things) we normally use … of
the door of the room (not the room’s door)
the beginning of the story (not the story’s beginning)

Sometimes you can use ‘s when the first noun is a thing. For example, you can say:
the book’s title or the title of the book

But it is safer and more usual to use … of… (but see also section b).

You can usually use ‘s when the first noun is an organization (= a group of people). So you can say:

the government’s decision or the decision of the government

the company’s success or the success of the company

It is also possible to use ‘s with places. So you can say:

the city’s new theater the world’s population

France’s system of government Italy’s largest city

After a singular noun we use ‘s. After a plural noun (which ends in -s) we use only an

apostrophe (‘):

my sister’s room (one sister) Mr. Carter’s house

my sisters’ room (more than one sister) the Carters’ house (Mr. and Mrs. Carter)

If a plural noun does not end in -s, we use ‘s: a children’s book

Note that you can use ‘s after more than one noun:

Jack and Jill’s wedding Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s house

But we would not use ‘s in a sentence like this:

  • I met the wife of the man who lent us the money, (“the man who lent us the money” is too long to be followed by ‘s)

    Note that you can use ‘s without a following noun:

  • Tom’s apartment is much larger than Ann’s. (= Ann’s apartment)

    You can also use ‘s with time words (tomorrow, etc.):

  • Tomorrow’s meeting has been canceled.

  • Do you still have last Saturday’s newspaper?

    You can also say: yesterday’s today’sthis evening’s … next week’s… Monday’s… etc.

    We also use ‘s (or only an apostrophe (‘) with plurals) with periods of time:

  • I have a week’s vacation.

  • I have three weeks’vacation.

  • I need eight hours’sleep a night.

  • My house is very near here – only about five minutes’ walk.
    Compare this structure with “a three-week vacation” (Unit 74e).

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