Today we were talking about possessive nouns in class, and I think at one point it got a little confusing. These rules even confuse native speakers. I know when I have looked at the writing from first year university students who speak English as their first language, there is often a lot of confusion over when to use -'s and when to use -s'. Some common mistakes are sentences like:
The wive's flowers are on the table, and the mens' flowers are on the floor.
This should be:
The wives' flowers are on the table, and the men's flowers are on the floor.
After class today, I looked through the corpus of first year university level writing I'm compiling for my PhD research, and I found 8 examples of singular and 8 examples of plural possessive nouns written by native English speaking students. I thought it might be nice to have some real examples.
Here are the singular possessive noun examples:
1. the animal’s physical and mental health
2. a continuation of the province’s debt reduction policy
3. As each player’s skill level increases the level of competition increases.
4. Speaking from a university student’s perspective
5. At this point in anyone’s life
6. prepare them for life’s long voyage
7. needed so much in today’s world
8. Physical education is an important part of the curriculum in a child’s life
Here are the plural possessive noun examples:
1. Allowing women to play on men’s professional teams would be a great change
2. an opportunity to further broaden students’ experiences and knowledge
3. all of those people are affected by their leaders’ choices
4. tension within the parents’ relationship
5. facing longer waits in doctors’ offices
6. it would improve the students’ grades
7. an improvement overall in children and teenagers’ lifestyles
8. the intention behind doing this is to keep the animals’ behaviours the same