If you’re anything like me, you may often get confused between the plural and possessive forms of words. The grammar rules that distinguish plural nouns from possessive nouns are something we often leave behind after graduating high school, but who knew they could make such a big difference?
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the workforce, you’ll know how common it is for people to mistake the terms “employee’s” and “employees’,” with the only apparent difference being the position of the apostrophe. However, there is a big difference in the meaning of these words.
Allow us to clarify.
If you’re using the word “employee’s,” you are referring to something that belongs to an employee. In other words, this is the singular possessive form of the word “employee.” In contrast, the plural possessive form of the word “employees” is, in fact, “employees’,” which refers to more than one employee. Confusing, right?
Let’s start at the beginning. The word “employee” simply refers to a professional who gets paid to perform certain duties for an employer. But you already know that. The confusion comes into play when you consider the differences between the singular possessive and plural possessive forms of words.
Therefore, we present to you a complete guide on the apostrophe of possession, so you no longer have to spend time anxiously scrolling through Google results just to get the correct spelling of the word “employee.”
To navigate the differences between the terms employees’ and employee’s, consider the following examples of the word “employee” as a singular noun, plural noun, and possessive noun.
An example of the word “employee” as a singular noun is as follows:
Mr. Smith is a long-term employee of the company.
An example of the word “employee” used as a plural noun is as follows:
Multiple employees resigned from the organization when the hours became longer.
An example of the word “employee” used in its singular possessive form is as follows:
The employee’s car was parked far away from the office.
An example of the word “employee” used in its plural possessive form is as follows:
The employees’ wages were reduced following the recession.
The examples above illustrate how the word “employee” is used in its singular form, plural form, and possessive forms.
It is essential to understand the concept of plural nouns to better comprehend the plural form of the word “employee”, along with other nouns in the English language.
Nouns are essentially naming words used to describe places, people, or objects. Most English nouns are words used to describe things we can count, known as count nouns.
English nouns that you can’t count are a bit more abstract and refer to qualities or uncountable objects, including “sand,” “work,” and “love.”
The English word “employee” is effectively a count noun, meaning we can count the number of employees we refer to. An employee works for an organization that pays them to do so, and a company can identify how many employees work for it. You can identify a count noun by adding the letter “s” at the end and seeing if the word describes the plural form of the noun.
See the examples below to understand plural nouns better:
Creating a plural noun is not always as simple as just adding an “s” at the end of the word. Some grammatical rules dictate adding other letters and omitting certain letters to turn singular nouns into plural nouns.
Consider these examples to understand the rules associated with plural forms:
Nouns ending in s, sh, ss, and ch get an “-es”:
The possessive form of an English Noun indicates the ownership of an object or thing. All possessive nouns get apostrophes, and the position of the apostrophe determines whether the noun is in its singular or plural possessive form.
See the rules below to understand the placement of an apostrophe in various contexts:
All English nouns in their singular forms get an apostrophe s (‘s) at the end when written as a possessive noun. An apostrophe “s” after the word “employee” indicates a single employee owns something.
The employee’s coat was damaged when Kate’s cat got a hold of it.
If a plural noun doesn’t end in an “s” and you want to write it in its possessive form, add an apostrophe s (‘s).
The woman’s day got very busy when the children’s schedules were filled.
Plural nouns that end in an “s” only get an apostrophe at the end of the word. This rule describes the spelling of “employees'” as it is the possessive form of the plural noun.
The two boys’ books were destroyed after the three dogs’ teeth got into them.
The word “employee” is a commonly used count noun, so there are countless ways to use this word. Here, we will explore the function of the word in conjunction with determiners. Determining words clarify further information about the relevant noun.
The (Definite Article)
The employee participated in a charity drive.
A or An (Indefinite Article)
An employee greeted him at the door.
All/Enough/Many (Quantifiable Article)
Many employees qualify for this promotion.
This employee was hired for the job.
One/First/Two/Second (Number or Rank)
One employee was chosen as the first worker to receive this award.
Both employees are fantastic workers.
My/Your/Mine/Yours/His/Her (Possessive Pronoun)
My employees were happy to get a pay raise.
Another employee gave me the correct answer.
The employee whose employment expired.
The word “all” refers to “the total of” or “every one” of something. We use the word “all” before a noun to indicate a quantity. Because the word “all” refers to more than one, we will use the plural form of “employee.” Therefore, we will refer to “all employees” instead of “all employee.”
Consider the following examples to comprehend the usage of “all” with “employees.”
We frequently use the word “all” with a demonstrative or possessive pronoun or with a number or article. For example:
The only instances you can use the word “all” with the singular noun “employee” is when you use it as an attributive noun. For example:
An employee is a person that works for a company and receives money for their work. The difference between employee’s and employees’ is that one refers to a single employee possessing something, whereas the other refers to several employees possessing something.
You must first determine whether you are using the word “employee” in its singular or plural form to identify where the apostrophe must be placed.