Five Ways to Use “S”

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Five Ways to Use “S
at the End of a Noun or Verb

Artwork and layout by Elizabeth deLumeau. Developed by Ellen Beck.

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In English, “s” is often added to the end of a noun or verb. This handout will demonstrate five different situations that require an “s.”1. Use sor “es to show plurality in count nouns. You need to show plurality when you are talking about more than one or are speaking in general terms about all of the items in one category.
Adding “S” to Show Plurality (more than one)

This person is reading more than one book. Therefore, it is necessary to add “s” to the end of the word “books.”

 
Adding “S” to Show Generality

If you are referring to a general rule, or are speaking about ALL of the items in one category (all trees, all computers, all schools), then you must add “s.” Also, remember not to use “the” in front of the plural noun when you are referring to a general category.

 
2. Use “s” for present tense subject/verb agreement. Add “s” on the end of a verb in present tense to agree with the singular “he,” “she,” or “it” subject .
Adding “S” for Subject/ Verb Agreement

This sentence is in the present tense. John is a “he” subject, so the verb, “sit” must add “s” to agree with “he.” This sentence also expresses repeated action. We know that John always sits in the front row, and always hates sitting there.

Adding “S” for Subject / Verb Agreement

Mary is a “she” subject, therefore you need to add “s” to the verbs “love” and “eat” so the subject and verb agree. This sentence is in present tense and is expressing something that is always true.

Adding “S” for Subject / Verb Agreement

“My computer” is an “it” subject, so the verbs “break” and “frustrate” need to add “s” to agree. This sentence is in the present tense and is expressing a repeated action.

3. Use an apostrophe followed by “s” (‘s) to show that a singular noun belongs to someone or something.
Add ‘S to Show Possession

This sentence is referring to something that someone owns. The ‘s means the computer belongs to John.

Add ‘S to Show Possession

This sentence is describing whose house burned down. The ‘s shows us that it was the house that belonged to Mary.

Add ‘S to Show Possession

This sentence is comparing the rooms occupied by two different people. The ‘s indicates that one room is owned by my brother, while the other is owned by my sister.

 
4. Use an “S” followed by an apostrophe (s’) to show possession of plural nouns or nouns that always end in “s.”
Using S’ to Show Possession

This sentence is comparing the two rooms used by the boys and the girls. Since the words boys and girls are already plural, the apostrophe is added after the s to show possession.

Using S’ to Show Possession

Once again, notice the plural noun, students, uses “s” followed by an apostrophe to show possession.

Using S’ to Show Possession

The name, Myles, always ends in “s” even though it is singular. This means that when you want to show possession with the name Myles, you need to add the apostrophe after the s.” For proper nouns ending in “s,” it is also accepted to add ‘s (Myles‘s homework).

Using S’ to Show Possession

Again, the proper noun, Les, always ends in “s.” Notice the apostrophe is added after the s.

5. The word “is” is often abbreviated (or “contracted”) in English. Use an apostrophe followed by an “s” (‘s) in order to show the contraction for the word “is.”
Using an Apostrophe “S” for IT’S

IT’S is simply a shorter way of saying IT IS. There are several other words that are commonly used with ‘s to show a contraction. For example, who’s, what’s, where’s, there’s, he’s, she’s, etc.

Other examples of contractions with IS:


Updated October 29, 2003
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