Employee's or Employees': Plural and Possessive Form (2023)

Confusion sometimes arises between plural and possessive forms because they can seem similar. However, if you are clear on the rules that govern these two grammatical terms, then it becomes easier to know which is which and where to place your apostrophe. This is certainly the case with “employee’s” vs. “employees’.”

“Employee’s” is the singular possessive form and refers to something that a single employee owns. If there is more than one employee, we refer to them as “employees,” and we use the plural possessive form “employees’” to refer to something multiple employees own. When we refer to an employee, we mean someone who is paid to work for someone else.

This article will explore plural and possessive forms so that we’re quite clear on whether we’re talking about one employee or many employees and can show ownership of both. We’ll also examine the tricky apostrophe and provide some guidelines on how to use it and where to place it.

Employee’s or Employees’?

To understand the basic difference between employee’s or employees’ grammar, we should consider examples that illustrate the various uses of the word in the singular, plural, and possessive forms.

EmployeeSingular nounThe employee works at the head office.
EmployeesPlural nounThe employees work at the head office.
Employee’sSingular possessiveThe employee’s car is parked at the head office.
Employees’Plural possessiveThe employees’ cars are parked at the head office.

This table clearly shows how nouns like “employee” function in the singular, plural, and possessive forms. So let’s start with singular vs. plural and dive into a quick discussion on forming plurals with English nouns.

Employee Plural

The first basic principle is to understand plurals so that we’re clear on what is the plural form of “employee” and other nouns.

As you will know, nouns are naming words for people, places, or things. Most English nouns are “count nouns,” meaning we can count them, and they have singular and plural forms (source).

Non-count nouns are more unusual and describe abstract qualities or masses that we cannot separate and count, such as “love,” “work,” or “water.”

“Employee” is a count noun that refers to a person who works for an organization or individual, and they pay them to do so. Most often, we make count nouns plural by simply adding an “s” at the end of the word, as in the examples below.

(Video) English Grammar Video 5 - Plurals and Possessives

  • Employee → employees
  • Cat → cats
  • Shoe → shoes
  • Leg → legs

Exceptions

It isn’t always that simple, though, and there are many exceptions that you will encounter. We summarize the ones that follow a pattern in the table below.

Words that end in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, x, or oRule: we add -esFlash → flashesRich → richesBox → boxesGas → gasesClass → classesTomato → tomatoes
Words that end in a consonant cluster including -y
Rule: we replace -y with -ies
City → citiesBerry → berriesBunny → bunniesSky → skies
Words that end in -f or -fe
Rule: we replace -f/fe with -ves
Elf → elvesSelf → selvesKnife → knives

There are, of course, some exceptions that don’t follow any pattern, and you’ll just have to learn them (source). Some of the most common are in the list below.

  • Roof → roofs
  • Photo → photos
  • Man → men
  • Woman → women
  • Foot → feet
  • Child → children
  • Fish → fish

As the plural of “employee,” you may ask, “How do you use ‘employees’ in a sentence?” Below are some examples that should clarify this.

  • My company has 1,500 employees.
  • The employees all signed performance contracts.
  • She likes to be treated differently from the other employees.

Employee Possessive and Plural Possessive Form

The possessive form of English nouns demonstrates ownership of something. It is relatively simple to master because it follows very specific rules.

All of these include using an apostrophe, which is where many students get confused. However, if you follow the simple rules we summarized in the table below, you should never go wrong with the possessive form.

AddWhenExamples
‘sSingular noun(even those ending in -s)The employee’s coat was at his desk.Ross’s aunt is coming for tea.The cat’s whiskers are very long.
‘sPlurals that don’t end in -sThe women’s coats were on the chair.The children’s results were very good.Pollution destroyed the fish’s habitat.
Plurals that end in -sThe employees’ coats were at their desks.The dogs’ owner has gone away.The boys’ shoes were all by the door.

So now you should have no doubt how to write and use employees’ plural possessive form and employee’s singular possessive form.

Application

Having mastered the possessive forms of “employee,” let’s now consider their definitions. What does “employee’s” mean, and what does “employees’” mean? If you’re unsure, remember that you can always turn possessive around to create an “of” sentence, as we show below:

  • The employee’s book = the book of the employee
  • The employees’ books = the books of the employees

Therefore, “employee’s” specifically refers to something that belongs to the employee the sentence refers to. “Employees’,” on the other hand, refers to something that belongs to more than one employee. Here, there could be multiple items — in this example, books — or it could be one thing that two or more employees own together, such as “the employees’ house.”

For further reading on the possessive form, see the articles “Class’s or Class’: Singular, Plural, and Possessive”and “Week’s or Weeks’: Singular, Plural, and Possessive.”

(Video) Subject Verb Agreement (singular and plural noun + action verb)

Employee's or Employees': Plural and Possessive Form (1)

The Apostrophe

The possessive forms both make use of an apostrophe, either before or after the “s,” which is where most confusion lies. Let’s delve into the apostrophe and examine the rules that govern its use.

The apostrophe has three main uses (source):

  • Making possessive nouns
  • Showing the omission of letters
  • Indicating plurals of letters, numbers, and symbols

Considering this, you may ask, “Is there an apostrophe in ‘employees’?” From reading about plurals and possessives, you will know that there is an apostrophe in the possessive forms of “employees,” but not when it’s only in the plural form and not possessive.

Making Possessive Nouns

When deciding where to place the apostrophe, you must know whether you are talking about one employee or many employees. If it’s singular, then you will choose “employee’s,” and if it’s plural, then your choice will be “employees’.”

Speaking of one employee, we will refer to “the employee’s desk.” But, if we’re speaking about two or more employees who share that same desk, then we will refer to “the employees’ desk.”

Indicating Plurals of Letters, Numbers, and Symbols

We never use an apostrophe in plurals unless it’s for letters, numbers, or symbols. This is one of the most common mistakes made in written English, so try to remember this rule.

The following are examples of how we use an apostrophe in select plurals:

  • My daughter will be upset with the C’s on her report.
  • There are four 5’s in my social security number.
  • Instead of typing swear words, people often use *’s and &’s.

There is one exception to this rule, and that is the use of apostrophes to avoid confusion, especially if the plural word may look like another word. This would happen in an example such as the following:

(Video) Words That Don't Have A Plural

  • She made a long list of the do’s and don’ts of parenthood.

Here, the plural “dos” might trip up a reader, so it is helpful to use the apostrophe.

Showing the Omission of Letters

The only other time that we use apostrophes is to show the omission of letters or numbers. We do this in two ways: firstly, to show that we’ve left out letters to form a contraction and, secondly, to show letters or numbers that we’ve omitted when spelling out words as someone spoke them.

We generally use contractions to make words flow more easily when speaking or writing informally, and apostrophes show where we’ve omitted letters, as in the examples below.

  • Can not → can’t
  • She is → she’s
  • Would not → wouldn’t

In the case of spelling words as someone spoke them, the following examples illustrate the point.

  • Class of ‘21 (omitting the “20” in 2021)
  • Runnin’ on empty (omitting the “g” in running)
  • All of ‘em (omitting the “th” in them)

So, can we use an apostrophe with “employee” to form a contraction? Yes, we can — at least informally or to write something the way someone said it. For example, if we say employee + is/has, we could say “employee’s,” as we’ve illustrated below.

  • Her employee is giving her a hard time.
  • Her employee’s giving her a hard time.
  • Her employee has taken the day off today.
  • Her employee’s taken the day off today.

We can only use this kind of contraction for spoken or informal English. When writing formally, we would rather write out the two words.

Employee's or Employees': Plural and Possessive Form (2)

Meaning of Employee

Now that you’ve grasped the plural and possessive forms of “employee,” let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning of the word. Dating back to 1850, it’s a relatively new word that originates from the French employé (source). It broadly describes any person receiving pay to work for someone else.

Synonyms for “employee” include:

(Video) Determiners: Articles, Demonstratives, Quantifiers & Possessives | EasyTeaching

  • Worker
  • Jobholder
  • Staff member
  • Wage earner

In contrast, an “employer” employs the employee. This describes the person or organization that an employee works for and pays wages or salaries to employees.

Using Determiners With “Employee”

As a common count noun, there are hundreds of ways to use the word “employee,” but we’re going to examine how it functions with determiners. Determiners are clarifying words that give more information about the noun.

We summarize the various types of determiners in the table below.

TypeExampleUsed in a Sentence
Definite articletheThe employee works in the marketing department.
Indefinite articlea/anAn employee gave me directions to your office.
QuantifierAll, many, enough, etc.Many employees will find the conditions unacceptable.
DemonstrativeThis, that, these, thoseThis employee reported your misconduct.These employees reported your misconduct.
NumbersOne, two, first, second, etc.One employee was selected to join the panel.She was the second employee to join the panel.
DistributivesEach, half, both, etc.Each employee received a Christmas bonus.
PossessivesMy, mine, yours, his, etc.His employees are the top performers.My employee forgot to lock the office.
Difference WordsOther, anotherThe other employee was not as lucky.
Defining WordsWhich, whoseThis is the employee whose car you scraped.

You will notice that some determiners require using singular nouns, and others need to accept plurals. What about when using the quantitative determiner “all”? How do we determine how to use “all employee” or “all employees” grammar?

All Employee or Employees?

“All” means “every one” or “the total number,” and we place it before a noun to specify quantity (source). Because we are talking about “the total number,” we are therefore talking about more than one employee and would use the plural “all employees” and not “all employee.” Consider the examples below.

  • All employees must report to the office at 5 p.m. today.
  • I have asked all employees to join us at the charity drive.
  • Are all employees invited to the Christmas party?

We often combine “all” with an article, possessive or demonstrative pronoun, or a number to give further information, as in the following examples.

  • All the employees were late for work. (article: the)
  • All my employees must please report to reception. (possessive pronoun: my)
  • All those employees went home early. (demonstrative pronoun: those)
  • All three employees were nominated for an award. (number: three)

This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

One situation where you would use “all employee” would be when you’re using “employee” as an attributive noun.

  • You must work 40 hours a week to qualify for all employee benefits.

Final Thoughts

Once you know what an employee is, you need to know if you’re dealing with one employee or two or more employees. Knowing if your noun is singular or plural will allow you to determine whether you use singular or plural possessive forms to speak about something that belongs to that employee or those employees.

(Video) Object Pronouns

Most often, if you see -‘s at the end of a word, it’s singular possessive, and an apostrophe after an “s” signals plural possessive. This is how grammar works with the noun “employee,” and it’s worth remembering because, one day, almost all of us will be somebody’s employee!

FAQs

What is the plural possessive of employees? ›

With a plural noun ending in s, form the possessive by adding only an apostrophe: three employees' paychecks and two bosses' recommendations, not three employee's paychecks and two bosses's recommendations.

Which is the correct plural possessive form? ›

Plural Possessives:

Most plural nouns are made possessive by adding only an apostrophe onto the word In other words, if the plural form of the noun ends in –s, then the plural possessive form will only use an apostrophe.

Do you put an apostrophe on employees? ›

Employees should include the hyphen (-) or apostrophe (') if their names have them.

Where does apostrophe go for plural possessive? ›

Form the possessive case of a plural noun by adding an apostrophe after the final letter if it is an s or by adding 's if the final letter is not an s. Remember: the apostrophe never designates the plural form of a noun.

Which is correct employee's or employees? ›

“Employee's” is the singular possessive form and refers to something that a single employee owns. If there is more than one employee, we refer to them as “employees,” and we use the plural possessive form “employees'” to refer to something multiple employees own.

What is a plural possessive apostrophe example? ›

To show possession in the plural form for a compound noun, all you have to do is form the plural first and then add an apostrophe + s. For example: My two sisters-in-law's houses are on the same street.

How do you make a word plural that ends in s possessive? ›

Most experts and guides say you should add an apostrophe and an S to both proper and common nouns to make them possessive even when they end in S. So, using the examples above, it would be: Chris's car. the crocus's petals.

What are the rules for possessive nouns? ›

  • • Rule 1: To form the possessive of a singular noun, add an. apostrophe and s ('s) = car = car's.
  • • Rule 2: To form the possessive of a plural noun ending in s, add only an apostrophe (')= dogs = dogs'
  • • Rule 3: To form the possessive of a plural noun that does. not end in s, add an apostrophe and s ('s) = mice =

How do you tell if a possessive noun is singular or plural? ›

Singular & Plural Possessive Nouns - YouTube

How do you use employee in a sentence? ›

A good boss listens to his employees. The company has more than 2,000 employees worldwide.

What is the plural of employee in training? ›

The plural form of employee is employees.

How do you spell employees only? ›

employees
  1. employess - 14.8%
  2. emplyees - 5.6%
  3. empolyees - 3.4%
  4. enployees - 3.2%
  5. employyes - 2.5%
  6. emploees - 2.5%
  7. emplois - 2.1%
  8. Other - 65.91%

What are the 3 rules for apostrophes? ›

The apostrophe has three uses: 1) to form possessive nouns; 2) to show the omission of letters; and 3) to indicate plurals of letters, numbers, and symbols. ​Do not ​use apostrophes to form possessive ​pronouns ​(i.e. ​his​/​her ​computer) or ​noun ​plurals that are not possessives.

How do you write possessive of two people? ›

If two people possess the same item, put the apostrophe + s after the second name only. However, if one of the joint owners is written as a pronoun, you will need to use the possessive form for both. Correct: Laura and Steve's home.

What are 5 examples of apostrophe? ›

A few apostrophe examples below:
  • I am – I'm: “I'm planning to write a book someday.”
  • You are – You're: “You're going to have a lot of fun with your new puppy.”
  • She is – She's: “She's always on time.”
  • It is – It's: “I can't believe it's snowing again.”
  • Do not – Don't: “I don't like anchovies.”

Who are the employees? ›

An employee is a person who has agreed to be employed to work for some form of payment under a contract of employment. Your employment status will help define what rights and responsibilities you have at work. There are three main types of employment status: worker.

Is employer singular or plural? ›

employer ​Definitions and Synonyms ​‌‌‌
singularemployer
pluralemployers

What is the plural of employer? ›

employer /ɪmˈplojɚ/ noun. plural employers.

What are the 10 examples of apostrophe? ›

Examples
  • It's a nice day outside. ( contraction)
  • The cat is dirty. Its fur is matted. ( possession)
  • You're not supposed to be here. ( contraction)
  • This is your book. ( possession)
  • Who's at the door? ( contraction)
  • Whose shoes are these? ( possession)
  • They're not here yet. ( contraction)
  • Their car is red. ( possession)

How do you use a possessive apostrophe with a name ending in s? ›

If a proper name ends with an s, you can add just the apostrophe or an apostrophe and an s. See the examples below for an illustration of this type of possessive noun. You're sitting in Chris' chair. You're sitting in Chris's chair.

What are 10 examples of plural nouns? ›

  • Man – men.
  • Woman – women.
  • Ox – oxen.
  • Goose – geese.
  • Child – children.
  • Tooth – teeth.
  • Foot – feet.
  • Mouse – mice.

What are the examples of possessive nouns? ›

A possessive noun shows ownership by adding an apostrophe, an "s" or both.
...
Singular & Plural Possessive Pronouns
  • That is mine.
  • My car runs great.
  • His work is good.
  • Her diet is working.
  • The bag is hers.
  • The house is ours.
  • I see your coat. ( singular)
  • It is all yours. ( plural)

Do I add apostrophe S after S? ›

Use an apostrophe when showing possession

If the plural of the word is formed by adding an "s" (for example, cats), place the apostrophe after the "s" (see guideline #3 below). If the plural of the word is formed without adding an "s" (for example, children), add apostrophe "s" ('s) as you would to the singular form.

Which is correct boss or boss's? ›

“Boss's” is the acceptable possessive singular form of “boss.” We add an apostrophe and an “s” to the singular version of “boss.” We use it when a “boss” in a statement possesses an object.

What are the 7 possessive nouns? ›

As their names imply, both possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns show ownership. The independent possessive pronouns are mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs.

How do you list multiple possessive nouns? ›

When referencing two or more nouns that are acting together, then the plural possessive form requires adding an apostrophe followed by an "s" to only the last noun. For example, Mary and Kelley are college roommates who share a dorm room. You'd say Mary and Kelley's room to refer to their place of residence.

What is the difference between plural and possessive nouns? ›

Both plurals and possessives (ownership) require an s at the end of a noun, but only the possessive requires an apostrophe (') in addition to the s.

What is the example of singular & plural possessive noun? ›

Examples of plural possessive nouns include “the Smiths' house” and “horses' hooves.” 4. Singular possessive nouns: A singular possessive noun indicates the ownership of one person, place, or thing. Here are a few examples of singular possessive nouns: “teacher's lesson plans” and “classroom's printable worksheets.”

Can we use singular and plural with possessive nouns? ›

If they're singular, just add an apostrophe and an s to the final word. If the nouns are plural with a regular s at the end, add only an apostrophe to the final word. However, if the word is plural without an s at the end, add both an apostrophe and an s to the final word.

What part of speech is employees? ›

An individual who provides labor to a company or another person.

What is the example of employee? ›

An example of an employee is a sales associate at a retail store. Since the worker must complete tasks in a specified manner, such as wearing a name badge and greeting the customer with specific phrasing, the worker is considered an employee.

Which is the best sentence employee? ›

Use “employee” in a sentence

Yesterday they fired seven employees. Two thirds of the employees of this company are engineers. He treats his employees generously. Treat your employees properly, they are your greatest assets.

Is all staff singular or plural? ›

“Staff” is often used as a collective noun. (A collective noun is a word that appears singular but represents an entire group.) If the group is acting as a unit – in other words, everyone – you use a singular verb.

What is the plural of the word staff? ›

plural staffs. a : a group of people who work for an organization or business.

Is personnel plural or singular? ›

“Personnel” can be both singular and plural. Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage and Dictionary.com note that some people object to “personnel” being plural, but that the plural use is widespread and acceptable.

What means employee only? ›

EMPLOYEES ONLY means the contractor carries workers' compensation coverage on employees and is registered to have employees. Sample 1.

What's the difference of employee and employer? ›

An employee is hired by a person or business to perform work for that person or business, also referred to as the employer. The Internal Revenue Service defines individuals as employees if the employer can control the work performed.

What's the difference between employee and employed? ›

He or she works under the employer either full time or part time and in return gets paid for their services. A person doesn't need to work full time to be considered an employee, the only thing necessary for a person to classify as an employee is if he/she is working for their employer and are getting paid to do so.

How do you make a word plural that ends in s possessive? ›

Most experts and guides say you should add an apostrophe and an S to both proper and common nouns to make them possessive even when they end in S. So, using the examples above, it would be: Chris's car. the crocus's petals.

How do you make a possessive noun that ends in s? ›

If a proper name ends with an s, you can add just the apostrophe or an apostrophe and an s. See the examples below for an illustration of this type of possessive noun. You're sitting in Chris' chair. You're sitting in Chris's chair.

What is a possessive form? ›

The possessive form is used when you want to show ownership by one noun (person, place, or thing) over another.

What are possessive nouns examples? ›

A possessive noun is a noun that shows ownership of something. Possessive nouns are commonly created with the addition of an apostrophe and 's' at the end of a noun. For example: This is the cat's toy.

What are 5 examples of apostrophe? ›

A few apostrophe examples below:
  • I am – I'm: “I'm planning to write a book someday.”
  • You are – You're: “You're going to have a lot of fun with your new puppy.”
  • She is – She's: “She's always on time.”
  • It is – It's: “I can't believe it's snowing again.”
  • Do not – Don't: “I don't like anchovies.”

What are the 10 examples of apostrophe? ›

Examples
  • It's a nice day outside. ( contraction)
  • The cat is dirty. Its fur is matted. ( possession)
  • You're not supposed to be here. ( contraction)
  • This is your book. ( possession)
  • Who's at the door? ( contraction)
  • Whose shoes are these? ( possession)
  • They're not here yet. ( contraction)
  • Their car is red. ( possession)

What are the 3 rules for apostrophes? ›

The apostrophe has three uses: 1) to form possessive nouns; 2) to show the omission of letters; and 3) to indicate plurals of letters, numbers, and symbols. ​Do not ​use apostrophes to form possessive ​pronouns ​(i.e. ​his​/​her ​computer) or ​noun ​plurals that are not possessives.

What are the rules of possessive nouns? ›

  • • Rule 1: To form the possessive of a singular noun, add an. apostrophe and s ('s) = car = car's.
  • • Rule 2: To form the possessive of a plural noun ending in s, add only an apostrophe (')= dogs = dogs'
  • • Rule 3: To form the possessive of a plural noun that does. not end in s, add an apostrophe and s ('s) = mice =

What is possessive case with example? ›

The possessive case often conveys possession or ownership, such as Joseph's book or my opinion. It is the only case in which nouns alter their form (e.g., Joseph to Joseph's). This simple alteration changes a person, place, or thing into an owner or possessor of something else.

Is it Williams or Williams's? ›

The Associated Press Stylebook recommends just an apostrophe: It's Tennessee Williams' best play. But most other authorities endorse 's: Williams's. Williams's means “belonging to Williams.” It is not the plural form of Williams. People's names become plural the way most other words do.

How do you write possessive of two people? ›

If two people possess the same item, put the apostrophe + s after the second name only. However, if one of the joint owners is written as a pronoun, you will need to use the possessive form for both. Correct: Laura and Steve's home.

What is the plural possessive of wife? ›

To begin with a plural possessive noun of wife is wives'. This applies when there is more than one wife in discussion. If interested in a little explanation of the answer feel free to continue reading. Plural simply means many and possessive refers to ownership or patronage of object whether physical or abstract.

How do you use plural possessive nouns in a sentence? ›

Plural possessives indicate when there is more than one of a noun and show ownership of something. The possessive of most plural nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe only: Alice had two kittens. When they were playing in the kitchen, the kittens' toy went under the refrigerator.

What are the 7 possessive nouns? ›

Table – The 7 Possessive Pronouns
Personal PronounsPossessive AdjectivesPossessive Pronouns
Imymine
you (singular/plural)youryours
hehishis
sheherhers
3 more rows

How do you teach plural possessive nouns? ›

  1. Teach the possessive apostrophe rule: "If a noun is plural and ends in s, then add an apostrophe to the end; otherwise, add apostrophe then an s." This sounds a bit awkward at first, but it always works. ...
  2. Apply the rule to each sentence. ...
  3. Practice until the kids can repeat the rule aloud on their own.

How do you make a sentence possessive? ›

The general rule for making something possessive in English is to add an apostrophe and the letter s ('s) to the end. Below are some examples of possessives in English. With a plural noun ending in -s, you only need to add an apostrophe to the end of the word to make it possessive.

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