Should there be an apostrophe in the sign "residents parking". A quick Google search suggests there shouldn't. But why not? Is "residents" an adjective?

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    The people who design notices are frequently ignorant or contemptuous of the finer points of grammar and punctuation. It is a convention in Britain that apostrophes are omitted. On a related topic, I once wrote to Bristol City Council about a notice outside a public toilet which announced that it was open on "Sunday's". They changed it. You could try a similar tactic, or else persuade yourself that the use is adjectival. Jul 29, 2018 at 19:57
  • Duplicate List ≠ Duplicates’ List ≠ Duplicative List ≠ Duplicitous List: english.stackexchange.com/q/5804 english.stackexchange.com/q/76593 english.stackexchange.com/q/36657 english.stackexchange.com/q/87345 english.stackexchange.com/q/180559; and Related List: english.stackexchange.com/q/59425 english.stackexchange.com/q/112420 english.stackexchange.com/q/2640 english.stackexchange.com/q/273934. Kindly note that all four of resident, resident’s, residents, residents’ are nouns; the adjective is residential.
    – tchrist
    Jul 29, 2018 at 20:11
  • @MichaelHarvey No, residents is a noun; the adjective is residential. Even when you have a cattle guard blocking the herd from crossing, cattle is still a noun not an adjective. (HINT: Notice you couldn’t say that the second cattle guard is even “cattler” than the first one had been. :) It is both a common error and a formal logical fallacy to assume that just because all adjectives are noun modifiers, that all noun modifiers must also be adjectives: this in fact is not true in the least! There’s a great deal more that goes into being an adjective than merely modifying a noun: .
    – tchrist
    Jul 29, 2018 at 20:23
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    @tchrist "There’s a great deal more that goes into being an adjective than merely modifying a noun." I can't help but think that this sounds exactly like something an adjective would say at a party. :) Jul 29, 2018 at 21:00
  • Sorry, tchrist. I'm a prat. I'll go back to designing signs. Jul 29, 2018 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


I would recommend this: "Residents' Parking" because the intent is to provide clarity. Who is allowed to park there? My interpretation of those words means that this area is where (only) residents may park, and there is more than one resident, so it should be plural possessive.

If it were a single parking space meant for one residential unit, then "Resident's Parking" would be appropriate, but not typical, and not as clear as "Parking for Unit 1" or "Reserved for Resident" or "J. Smith's Parking [spot]."

Without any apostrophe at all, the words "Residents Parking" is like a caption on a photo of a parking lot showing cars in the act of parking, like enlightening visitors to the zoo: "Gazelles Grazing."

  • I recommend addressing the part of the question that wants to know whether residents is an adjective, as in all other regards it is an absolute duplicate of a bazillion earlier questions.
    – tchrist
    Jul 29, 2018 at 20:15
  • @tchrist - With respect, you're confused. The OED gives a bazillion examples of resident as an adjective. For example, "Abel..held the post of ‘resident officer’... His job was to recruit and organize local spies." And "Of course a resident Poet and Librettist will be required on the premises. Early applications necessary."
    – Peter4075
    Jul 30, 2018 at 5:55
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    @Peter4075 Sure, resident can be an adjective, but it isn’t one here. A resident officer is one who’s always there; they aren’t a visiting or transient or migratory officer. But a resident parking lot is not one that’s simply always there: the non-resident parking lot isn’t going anywhere either. Rather, it’s a parking lot that is for residents, making this an attributive noun use, not an attributive adjective use. It’s like how the resident tuition isn’t one that’s staying put; it’s one that’s for residents. The non-resident tuition rate isn’t just stopping by for a chat. :)
    – tchrist
    Jul 30, 2018 at 18:46

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