I’ve encountered these sentences in the net:

“My morals are mine, not others.” “Decisions are yours, not others.” “American values are ours, not others”.

I wonder whether they are correct regarding the possessive form of others. I think it should be others’ not others. For example, the first sentence should be

“My Morals are mine, not others’.”

I’ve searched the net with the words “possessive forms”, “possessive forms ending”, “possessive without noun”, “possessive omitting noun”, “possessive pronoun”, and other related words to find the correct possessive form that is without following noun (like others’, the book’s, the car’s. I don’t know what this form is called in English), but to no avail. I believe that, when I was a student (not a native English speaker one), I was taught that I could omit the noun after apostrophe s if it was understood what the omitted noun is. So the word others’ should be the correct word. But when I searched the net to check with these words - mine, not others’ / yours, not others’ / ours, not others’ – the word not others came up much more often than the word not others’.

That quite surprised and confused me. So, I posted a question here in hope that someone could help me.

The 2nd edited part:

And as I said, I’ve tried to learn more about the correct use of the possessive apostrophe s that is without a noun following but couldn’t. Now, I’m not sure what said was clear enough. To be more clear, the following is an example of what I’m trying to mean:

The golden key is this car’s key, not that car’s.

Is the use of < that car’s > in the above sentence correct, and is there a technical term for such a word (the use of apostrophe s without a noun following)? I’d like to learn more about it but don’t know what is(are) the word(s) to search.

Best regards,



2 Answers 2


Your examples are generally ambiguous, as spoken, and the spelling depends on what is meant. Your example “My Morals are mine, not others’" means that my morals are mine alone, not the same as the morals of other people. But it is pronounced the same as “My Morals are mine, not others”, meaning that my morals are peculiar to my moral system, not to other, non-moral principles that I adhere to (e.g., "A penny saved is a penny earned"). The former "others(')" is interpreted "morals of other people" while the latter is "principles other than moral principles."

  • Thank you very much. Interesting. That’s a new perspective for me. Previously, I thought that a sentence like “My morals are mine, not others” means “My morals are mine, they are not others’ morals”. But from what you said, it can also mean “My morals are mine, no other things are mine”. As I said in the previous post, all the sentences that I raised as examples were from the net. I cannot be certain what the writers intended to mean. But from the context, I think they were intended to mean: they are not others’.
    – user287279
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 7:38
  • For example, the two more complete texts are: “I try my best not to judge or act like I’m better then any other person, my morals are mine not others, I guess what I’m trying to say is I love people and life.” and “Courage. If you are a leader, decisions are yours, not others.”. (from pof.com/viewprofile.aspx?profile_id=50848715 and linkedin.com/pulse/… )
    – user287279
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 7:39
  • Anyway, my question is if < not others > was intended to mean < they are not others’ >, then < not others’ > would have been the correct word to use, wouldn’t it?
    – user287279
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 7:40
  • @user287279, Yes.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 8:11

Cars cannot "possess" anything, as they are not human, nor indeed animals of any kind, so it should be, eg. "The door of the car", or The car door", definitely not ever "The car's door"! "My morals are mine, not others'" seems perfectly and simply clear to me, and any attempts to "clarify" or to extend the meaning will result in obfuscation or unnecessary confusion.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.