What is the correct shortening for "Goals of the Theses"?

  1. Theses Goals
  2. Theses' Goals

I am confused, because Theses ends with an 's', but using the apostrophe makes it plural.

  • It is common practice to omit the possessive -- and is permitted. "Theses Goals" = "Theses' Goals" where required. – Kris Dec 2 '16 at 8:33

Thesis is singular, theses is plural. Thesis' is singular genitive, theses' is plural genitive. As a general rule for genitives of words ending in s, you use s', the Saxon genitive.

So, assuming you want to talk about the multiple goals in multiple theses, then you would use "theses' goals". If you want to talk about multiple goals on a single thesis, you would use "thesis' goals."

As a general rule you can translate "x of the y" into "y's x", these being the two forms of genitive in English. However, beware, there are many instances where the two are not interchangeable.

  • 2
    In the case of singular nouns ending in -s, often just the apostrophe is added, but this is generally discouraged - see owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01 or many other references for that. So thesis's is the correct version for the singular form. – Arsen Y.M. Oct 21 '14 at 22:36
  • I'm afraid that's not the question, though. – Kris Dec 2 '16 at 8:29

Thesis is the singular form, and theses is the plural. If you have one thesis, you can say thesis's goals, but goals of the thesis would sound and look better. If you have more than one thesis, then you can say theses' goals, but again goals of the theses would probably be the better choice.

  • We can use comments to provide helpful information such as this. See also my comment above at Fraser Orr. – Kris Dec 2 '16 at 8:30

Either choice could be suitable. "Theses goals" could be perfectly acceptable as a compound.


Strictly speaking, inanimate objects don't have 'goals'. They are the writer's goals, so you should phrase it differently, such as 'my goals in this thesis' or something along those lines.

So, the answer is: 'none of the above'.

  • This makes the incorrect assumption that ‘the goal of the thesis’ implies that the goal belongs to the thesis in an actively possessing way. There is nothing wrong with saying that a thesis (or a football pitch for that matter) has a goal. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 2 '16 at 8:43

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