Princess’ or Princess’s? Navigating the Apostrophe Conundrum

The Possessive Apostrophe: A Brief Overview

Before delving into the specifics of “Princess’” versus “Princess’s,” it’s essential to grasp the fundamental role of the possessive apostrophe in English grammar. In general, the apostrophe is used to indicate ownership or possession.

When a noun possesses something, whether tangible or abstract, the apostrophe is employed to link the possessor and the thing possessed.

Princess’ vs. Princess’s: Singular Possessives

The conundrum arises when determining the possessive form of singular nouns ending in “s,” such as “princess.” Should one add an apostrophe followed by an “s,” as in “Princess’s,” or is the apostrophe alone sufficient, as in “Princess’”?

  1. Princess’: This form, known as the singular possessive apostrophe, is used when the noun itself is singular and ends in “s.” In this construction, the apostrophe serves to indicate possession without adding an extra “s” after it.
  2. Princess’s: Conversely, “Princess’s” employs both the apostrophe and an additional “s” after the apostrophe. This form, known as the singular possessive with an added ‘s’, is preferred by some style guides, particularly when the noun is singular and ends in “s”.

Scenario Examples: Singular Possessives

To illustrate the usage of both forms, consider the following scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Royal DecreeThe royal decree bore the Princess’s signature.In this instance, the addition of the extra “s” after the apostrophe emphasizes the possession of the decree by the princess.
  • Scenario 2: Royal HeirloomThe ancient crown was the princess’ most treasured heirloom.Here, the singular possessive apostrophe indicates the ownership of the crown by the princess, without the need for an additional “s” after the apostrophe.

Princesses: Plural Possessives

Beyond singular possessives, there’s also the matter of plural possessives involving “princesses.” When multiple princesses possess something, the apostrophe placement can vary:

  • Princesses’: This form denotes plural possessive, indicating that multiple princesses collectively possess something. The apostrophe comes after the “s” when the noun is already pluralized.

Scenario Example: Plural Possessive

Consider the following scenario:

  • Scenario: Royal GardensThe princesses’ gardens flourished with vibrant blooms.In this case, the plural possessive apostrophe indicates that the gardens belong to multiple princesses collectively.

Navigating the Apostrophic Waters: Style and Preference

When it comes to determining whether to use “Princess’” or “Princess’s,” as well as navigating plural possessives like “princesses’,” style guides and personal preference often play a significant role. While some style manuals advocate for one form over the other, others offer flexibility or leave the choice to the writer’s discretion.


In the age-old debate of “Princess’” versus “Princess’s,” the correct choice ultimately hinges on context, style, and personal preference. Whether one opts for the simplicity of the singular possessive apostrophe or the added emphasis of the extra “s,” clarity and consistency are paramount in ensuring effective communication.

By understanding the nuances of possessive apostrophe usage, one can navigate the apostrophic waters with confidence, whether in royal decrees, tales of princesses, or everyday prose.

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