Mind Other People’s Business

What’s a writer to do when she needs to make a normally plural word possessive? Words like others, people, children, and women  can muddy up the grammatical waters sometimes. I often see writers adding the possessive apostrophe+s in the oddest places. But I get the confusion. Let’s see if we can simplify this.

If you are talking about one person, you would write this:

  • It’s not my opinion, but the other’s opinion.
  • It’s that person’s car, not mine.

If you are talking about more than one “other” or national group or peoples, you would write this:

  • Those are others’ opinions, not mine.
  • It’s the Third World peoples’ problems [referring to more than one national group].

When you have words that are already plural, such as children or women, you don’t first make them plural and add the apostrophe. Here’s how you add the possessive:

  • I went to the children’s concert last night.
  • I attend the same women’s conference each year.

But you would say:

  • I enjoy going to writers’ conferences.
  • Drive a block past the dancers’ studio.



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