Why is it that men's eyes always drift toward females?

I mean, "men" is the plural form of "man". So it's "mens'"... but it looks very strange, and maybe this only applies if the word doesn't change in plural form?

For example, if it had been "one man" and "several mans", it would've been "several mans' eyes", but now that it's "men", "several men's eyes" is how you type it?

Is that the rule? Have I understood this correctly?

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    Does this answer your question? Is "mens" a valid word? – nnnnnn Jul 26 '20 at 22:30
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    While you're in school you can spell it men's (also women's, children's, oxen's, sheep's, deer's) with just plain old Apostrophe-S. You can't tell the singular from the plural possessive in speech, so there's no reason to do it in writing, either. So after you get out you can just omit the apostrophe like we do in speaking and write mens room the way it's pronounced. Most native speakers don't care and don't notice. It's only English teachers (particularly in non-Anglophone countries) that care. – John Lawler Jul 26 '20 at 22:59
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    @JohnLawler Only some don't notice. I would ensure it is there in a job application, but perhaps not in a SMS. – Peter Jul 27 '20 at 3:38
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    @JohnLawler I would expand that to include most official communication in a professional capacity. – Christina Hall Jul 27 '20 at 10:02
  • Anything you say can be a valid word. However, it depends on what language game you are playing (that's right, this is all ultimately a power game.) If you are an English professor at Harvard, I doubt you would eschew the apostrophe s when referring to a men's room in writing. – Lambie Feb 6 at 20:09

You are referring to the eyes of men (plural), so the apostrophe follows the "n".

  • ...and it's several men's eyes – Kate Bunting Jul 27 '20 at 9:03

The short answer is: "men's" is correct.

Let's look at a few different examples to see why.

First, let's look at a word for which you add an "-s" to make it plural.

"One dog" changes to "two dogs."

If we wanted to say that a bone belonged to a single dog, we would say: "The bone is the dog's."

If we wanted to say that a bone belonged to two dogs, we would not say: "the bone is the dogs's." Instead, we would say: "the bone is the dogs.'"

Now, let's look at a word that doesn't become plural by adding an "-s."

"One man" changes to "two men."

If we wanted to say that a car belonged to one man, we would say: "the car is the man's."

If we wanted to say that a car belonged to two men, we would not say: "the car is the mens.'" This would mean that there were multiple "mens," which isn't possible because "men" is already plural. This only works in the example with "dog" and "dogs" because you can have multiple "dogs."

Instead, we would say: "the car is the men's."

I suggest that you read THIS page about apostrophes to see how they are used to form possessives (go to the section titled "Possessives").

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