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I need to construct a sentence, in which I'm referring to a feature of each of the animals in a given species. I don't quite know what the possessive of species should be, both in singular and plural.

Example: (Talking about a single species with fuzzy ears.)

The species' ears are notably fuzzy.

Is the above correct? What if I had to mention multiple species all having fuzzy ears?

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The plural form of species is species. The plural possessive form of species is species'. So your sentence is correct. I think if you were referring to multiple species you could use other context clues to inform the reader that you are talking about more than one species such as:

"All of the species' ears are notably fuzzy."

If I were reading a paragraph about more than one species and I encountered this sentence I would make the assumption that you were referring to all of the species being spoken about rather than one individual species.

It might be easier to reword the sentence to something like this: "The two [or more] species have fuzzy ears.

Scribendi, an editing and proofreading service, has more information about plural possessives: https://www.scribendi.com/advice/how_to_use_plural_possessives_properly.en.html

  • Can you please specify what the singular possessive is? "This single species' ears are fuzzy." is my intention. – eimyr Aug 23 '16 at 19:07
  • The singular possessive is also species'. Your "this single species' ears are fuzzy" would be correct. – Lisa Aug 23 '16 at 20:17
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Consider: the boy's shirt, versus the boys' shoes. There is clearly only one boy in question for the shirt, and multiple boys for the shoes.

Now consider "species". If one writes "the species's ears", and "the species' eyes", then there is unambiguously only one species in question regarding ears, but multiple species for eyes.

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