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So I know an apostrophe is used to show possession. E.g The participant's book.

However, what if I wanted to show possession with several participants? If I was referring to the scores of each participant for example...

Look at the participants scores

Look at the participants' scores

Look at the participantses scores

Which one would be correct? According to a guide I looked at, putting 'es' at the end would be correct, however, I am not sure if it would be correct in this example.

closed as off-topic by tchrist, Hellion, choster, Misti, Ellie Kesselman Mar 23 '15 at 17:01

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  • The general rule (there are exceptions) for possessives is: For singular possessive add 's, and for plural possessive add (to the singular word) s'. (Or, for words where the singular form ends in s, add es' for the plural possessive.) – Hot Licks Mar 23 '15 at 1:09
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    What guide told you that adding "es" at the end is correct? (Whichever it is, you should probably throw it away, since it seems likely to be horribly wrong in many other respects as well.) – Hellion Mar 23 '15 at 2:37
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There is no such word in English as participantses.

There is variation that you could use for plural possessive

  • participants's, janitors's
  • which is usually shorted to participants', janitors'.

It is not just a plural possessive issue. It is a possessive issue of whenever the possessing noun ends with "s".

  • A genius's intellect
  • A genius' intellect

Pronouncing participants's is obviously "participantses".

However, how to pronounce the abridged and normally written version participants', is subject to differences in preferences.

You could pronounce it as

  1. participants
  2. participants's (i.e. "participantses")

Occasionally, I prefer to pronounce participants' like I would participants's, which is "participantses".

That occasional preference of mine is for clarity, but sounds awkward. Awkward because

  • users' sounds horrible as "userses"
  • nurses' sounds horrible as "nurseses"
  • the shops' hours sounds horrible as "the shopses hours"
  • Jeff Bridges' career sounds horrible as "Jeff Bridgeses career"
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Re-structure the sentence and use "of the" before the noun to show possession. This is much clearer and avoids the problems associated with "...s's" endings, including and pronunciation. It can also make the writer consider sentence structure and style.

  • It's late. Ignore the 'and' before 'pronunciation'. I didn't check it in draft. No excuse! – Skippy Mar 23 '15 at 0:12
  • Welcome to EL&U. You may edit your post and take the "and" out yourself. And it might be clearer to the OP (and other readers) to give examples rather than instructions. – rajah9 Mar 23 '15 at 1:32
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Making a word plural and making it possessive are two different processes. Most words require only the addition of an "s" to make it plural. Some words -- those that end in ch, x, s or s-like sounds require an "es." Finally there are a handful of words that have irregular forms, the most familiar of which would be words such as "man/men," or "mouse/mice."

So, first make your work plural: Participants

In most cases, making that word possessive is simply a matter of adding the apostrophe to the plural noun: Participants'

So, these variations are available: Participant = singular; Participants = Plural; Participant's = singular possessive; Participants' = plural possessive.

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