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Common Error: Plurals and Apostrophes

“Taxi’s” or “Taxis”? Read on to find out! (Photo Credit).

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since we looked at a Common Error, but this is one that I’ve noticed a lot recently. Interestingly, it’s a common error that advanced learners and even native English speakers make–the sign in the picture above was in England! The problem happens when you try to incorrectly make a word plural by adding ‘s (an apostrophe plus ‘S’).

Common Error: Incorrectly making a word “plural” by adding an “apostrophe + s”
DON’T say this: When I teach young student’s, I talk with their mother’s and father’s.
The sign said it sold “ice cream, hot dog’s, and hamburger’s.”
WHY? -This is an easy error to correct and recognize:

-Generally, to make a regular noun plural, add “-s” or “-es.”

-If you add “‘s” (apostrophe + s) to the end of a word, it usually makes it possessive, not plural, or in some cases it may be a contraction of the word “is.”

INSTEAD, SAY THIS: -When I teach young students, I talk with their mothers and fathers.
-The sign said it sold “ice cream, hot dogs, and hamburgers.”
-Mike’s a great guy, and he can make delicious hamburgers. (Here, Mike’s = “Mike is”)
-Let’s go to Mike’s house. (Here, Let’s = “let us,” indicating a suggestion, and Mike’s = the house belongs to Mike)

So, apostrophes can sometimes be a bit confusing, but remember that they’re usually NOT used to make plurals! If you are comfortable reading advanced English, AnnaLisa has written a couple of posts about apostrophe use on her blog “Word-wise.” The posts are very complete, so check them out if you can!

If you have any comments or questions, or especially if you have any suggestions for future Common Errors, please leave a message in the Comments section or contact us

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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Some Links For German Students
Language in Bilingual Couples and Families


  1. AnnaLisa
    On September 10, 2011 at 5:28 am Reply

    Thanks for the link, Ryan!

    It’s funny you should mention the plural/apostrophe error now. I was discussing this very topic yesterday with someone, and we swapped favorite “educational illustration” links. Maybe your students will appreciate them, too. I think the humor helps the lesson go down!




  2. Sitzman
    On September 10, 2011 at 5:40 am Reply

    Wow, thanks AnnaLisa–those links are great! The first one is brief and funny, but the second one is a great overview of apostrophe use in general. I also like the other posters they have on that site. I’ll also have to share them with students and readers!


  3. Ricardo VR
    On September 16, 2011 at 1:37 am Reply

    Easy, it’s Taxis 🙂 Good information to have into account always!

  4. Sitzman
    On September 16, 2011 at 2:33 am Reply

    Correct, Ricardo. Thanks for the comment!

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