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Is it Parent’s, Parents’, or Parents (Correct Grammar + Examples)

Is it “parents” or “parent’s” or “parents’?” Understanding possessive form and plural nouns is very challenging. For example, it is my parents’ anniversary. This is a grammatically correct sentence in the English language. Although, at first glance, our intuition would tell us that we would want to say “my parent’s anniversary.” That would be incorrect because a person has two parents that both have possession of the anniversary. And “parent’s” is the singular possessive form.

Learn the correct way to spell this word in this short English grammar guide…

Why is there confusion between parent’s, parents’, and parents?

Words that end in “-s” can get confusing to pluralize. They have a few possessive forms they can take in the English language. For example, a “parent” is one parent. While “parents” is correct when the sentence is, “I have two parents.” Although, when you need “a parent’s signature,” for example, the possessive form changes.

“Parents” definition

Let’s take a look at the definition of the base form:

Parents (noun) /ˈperənt/a father or mother.

Which is correct? Parents, Parent’s or Parents’?

Here is a simple breakdown of which word form is correct. For examples of each word form in an English sentence, scroll down to the next section.

WordCorrect or incorrect
ParentsCorrect: Only when using it in the singular plural form. For example, “I have two parents.”
Parent’sCorrect: Only when using it in the singular possessive form of the word “parent.” For example, “I need your parent’s fingerprints to complete this.”
Parents’Correct: Only when using it in the plural possessive form of the word “parent.” For example, “This is your parents’ house.”

Parents’, parent’s, and parents sentence examples

Below are sentence examples using the word form correctly:

  • Can we go to your parents’ house tomorrow for dinner?
  • How can we get your parent’s signatures for the field trip?
  • Is it your parents’ anniversary tomorrow?
  • My parent’s will be leaving tomorrow for their trip.

How to remember which word form to use

Remember that when referring to the singular possessive form, it is similar to saying, “My parent’s.” And when you are referring to things that your parent’s will have to do (an action, a task, a responsibility), use the plural possessive form of the word. For example, “My parents’ house.” Remember this sentence because it is an easy way to show possession and ownership of the two people (the parent’s).

How to use the apostrophe correctly

The possessive singular noun is made by adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” to the singular noun in question, regardless of whether the singular noun ends in an “s” letter.

When a plural noun has an “s” at the end, the possessive form of the noun is created by simply adding an apostrophe. When the noun ends in any other letter, the possessive form is made by adding both an apostrophe and an “s.”

Singular nounSarah’s
Plural nounWomen’s
2 or more peopleKim and Adam’s
Singular noun ending in “s”James’s and James’
Plural noun ending in “s”Parent’s
2+ peopleKim’s and Adam’s
Apostrophe for PossessivesApostrophe for Contractions
Amy’s swim classthey + have = they’ve
Karen’s carare + not = aren’t
Robert’s vehiclethey + will = they’ll
Singular NounPlural Noun
My child’s dogMy children’s dog
The man’s workThe men’s work
The mouses’ cageThe mice’s cage
A person’s clothesPeople’s clothes
Plural Noun RuleExample or Exception
To make regular nouns plural, add ‑s to the end.Cats, Houses
If the singular noun ends in ‑s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, or -z, add ‑es to the end to make it plural.Bus / Busses, Tax / Taxes
In some instances, singular nouns ending in -s or -z, require that you double the -s or -z prior to adding the -es for pluralization.Gas / Gasses
If the noun ends with ‑f or ‑fe, the f is often changed to ‑ve before adding the -s to form the plural version.Wife / wives
Roof / Roofs
Chef / Chefs
If a singular noun ends in ‑y and the letter before the -y is a consonant, change the ending to ‑ies to make the noun plural.City / Cities
If the singular noun ends in -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, simply add an -s to make it plural.Boy / Boys
If the singular noun ends in ‑o, add ‑es to make it plural.Tomato / Tomatoes
Photo / Photos
If the singular noun ends in ‑us, the plural ending is often ‑i.Cactus / Cacti
If the singular noun ends in ‑is, the plural ending is ‑es.Ellipsis / Ellipses
If the singular noun ends in ‑on, the plural ending is ‑a.Criterion / Criteria
Some nouns don’t change when they’re pluralized.Sheep / Sheep
Deer / Deer

Possessive Nouns and Plural Posessive Nouns FAQs

Can an apostrophe and an “s” together represent a contraction?

Yes. Two words put together to make a single word can also do this. For example: ice-cream. Or ice-cream. These can be compound nouns, as well. For example, “coffee table,” “forest fire.”

What is a plural possessive noun that ends in an apostrophe “s”?

An example would be “children’s clothes.” Without an apostrophe “s” and being a possessive noun would be: kids toys, smiths house (referring to the smith family). Each relate to different things but indicate possession.

What are the seven possessive nouns?

Mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs.

What are the three rules of possessive nouns?

Rule 1: To form the possessive of a singular or to add an apostrophe and an s.

Rule 2: For a plural noun, add only an apostrophe (‘)

Rule 3: For a possessive noun that does not end in an “s” letter, add an apostrophe and “s” letter. For examples, “mice’s.”


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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