Apostrophes after Z (with Examples)

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Apostrophes after Z

This page is about whether to use 's (apostrophe s) or just ' (just an apostrophe) to show the possessive form of a noun that ends -z. In other words, it is about whether to write:

Gomez' attitude or Gomez's attitude

Forming the Possessive with a Noun Ending Z

Here is the answer:
Use 's to show the possessive form of a singular noun ending -z.
Therefore:
  • Gomez' attitude
  • Gomez's attitude
This question often arises when writers need to form a possessive from a surname ending -ez. For example:
  • Gomez's ball
  • Gonzalez's house
  • Gutierrez's brother
  • Hernandez's dog
  • Lopez's way
  • Perez's garden
(NB: With Hispanic surname, the suffix –ez means "descendant of.")

Some More Examples with an Apostrophe after Z

Here are some more examples of nouns ending z in the possessive case:
  • These are Dr. Sanchez's patients.
  • The questions are full of unpronounceable words because the quiz's real purpose is to embarrass the host.

Why Is There Confusion over Z's and Z'?

Confusion arises because the possessive form of singular nouns that end s (e.g., Moses, series, Wales) can be shown by adding 's or just '.

The general rule for those nouns is write their possessive forms how you would pronounce them. For example:
  • Jones' report is terrible.
  • (This is for those people who pronounce it Jones.)
  • Jones's report is terrible.
  • (This is for those people who pronounce it Jonesiz.)
With the possessive form of a noun that ends in z, there is no choice. It will have the ziz sound at the end. Therefore, the -z's ending is needed to tell readers how to pronounce it.

Read more about the possessive forms of singular nouns ending s.

The History of the Possessive Apostrophe

The main function of the apostrophe is to replace a missing letter (e.g., aren't, don't). This is related to the possessive apostrophe.

In old English, possession was shown by adding es to the noun regardless of whether it was singular or plural. For example:
  • doges dinner
  • dogses dinner
  • childrenes dinner
  • Sanchezes dinner
Over time, the e was replaced by an apostrophe and if that left an ending of -s's, then the second s was removed.

If you use this process today, you will be right every time. There are no exceptions.
(1) Add es to the possessor
(2) Replace the e with '
(3) If left with s's, change to s'
Read more about using apostrophes.


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