Possessives: boss’ or boss’s grammar

Boss’ or boss’s has been a topic of debate for a very long time. Schools typically teach that words ending in “s” should drop the “s” following the apostrophe in possessive forms.

What are Possessives?

Possessives are adjectives that indicate possession. A possessive determiner or possessive adjective is a word such as “my” or “her.” It indicates to whom or what something belongs or is related. 

The possessive form of a name or word includes the addition of ‘s. For instance, “Jane’s” or “cat’s.”

Which is Correct: Boss’ or Boss’s?

Even though boss’ doesn’t have another ‘s,’ both boss’ and boss’ are pronounced the same way.

Some people think that “boss'” is correct because “boss” ends in “S,” but this is not true. This is because “boss” is a one-syllable word. A boss should not be written in apostrophes like this: Boss’.

The same rules apply where there are too many repeated ‘S’ sounds. You do not want the extra “S” at the end of the word. For example: “Barnabas,” “Texas,” and “Lagos.” 

Boss’ Or Boss’s Grammar
Boss grammar

The proper use of 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. The item that the “boss” possesses immediately follows it.

Use boss’s like you would any other singular noun’s possessive/genitive form.

Refer to the following examples to see the possessive form in action:

  • What is the boss’s home address? I need to dispatch this parcel to his home.
  • This is the boss’s workspace, so we must treat it with utmost dignity and care.
  • The boss’s happiness is everything. I protect it at all costs.

Add the apostrophe to indicate possession in the plural when a word ends in ‘s.’ However, the plural of “boss” is “bosses”; therefore, “the bosses’ dogs” is the correct phrase. Both “bosses’ dogs” and “boss’ dogs” sound identical. It is difficult to pronounce the “s” in the plural possessive form. Thus it must be dropped.

To Wrap Up

Therefore, it is incorrect when you use the plural possessive form “bosses” with a singular form of the noun. 

The first possessive form we employ is “boss’s.” Boss’s works when it is in its singular form, indicating that one “boss” possesses something in the statement. However, the plural form of “boss” is bosses. 


Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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