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1. Is: She's here.
2. Has: He's arrived.
3. Does: What's he want?
4. Us: Let's go.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

S, s


n., pl. Ss S's, ss s's.
1. the 19th letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.
2. any spoken sound represented by this letter.
3. something shaped like an S.
4. a written or printed representation of the letter S or s.


1. satisfactory.
2. sentence.
3. siemens.
4. signature.
5. single.
6. small.
7. soft.
8. soprano.
9. Also, s south.
10. southern.
11. state (highway).
12. Gram. subject.


1. the 19th in order or in a series.
2. Biochem. serine.
3. entropy.
4. sulfur.


Symbol. second.


an ending used to form the possessive of most singular nouns, plural nouns not ending in s, noun phrases, and noun substitutes: man's; women's; James's; witness's (or witness'); king of England's; anyone's.
[Middle English -es, Old English]


1. contraction of is: She's here.
2. contraction of has: He's been there.
3. contraction of does: What's he do for a living?


Archaic. a contraction of God's: 'sdeath; 'sblood.


a contraction of us: Let's go.


a contraction of as: so's not to be late.


a suffix used in the formation of adverbs: always; betimes; unawares.
[Middle English -es, Old English; ultimately identical with ' s1]


or -es,
an ending marking the third person sing. present indicative of verbs: walks; runs; plays.
[Middle English (north) -(e)s, Old English (north); orig. ending of 2nd pers. singular; replacing Middle English, Old English -eth -eth1]


or -es,
an ending marking nouns as plural (weeks; days; minutes), occurring also on nouns that have no singular (dregs; pants; scissors), or on nouns that have a singular with a different meaning (glasses; manners; thanks); -s3 occurs with a number of nouns that now often take singular agreement, as the names of games (billiards; checkers), of diseases (measles; rickets), or of various involuntary physical or mental conditions (d.t.'s; giggles; hots; willies). A parallel set of formations, where -s3 has no plural value, are adjectives denoting mental states (bananas; crackers; nuts); compare -ers.
[Middle English -(e)s, Old English -as]


a suffix of hypocoristic nouns, generally proper names or forms used only in address: Babs; Fats; Suzykins; Toodles.
[probably from the metonymic use of nouns formed with -s3, as boots or Goldilocks]


1. Sabbath.
2. Saint.
3. Saturday.
4. schilling.
5. Sea.
6. Senate.
7. September.
8. (in prescriptions) mark; write; label.
[< Latin signā]
9. Signor.
10. Socialist.
11. Fellow.
[< Latin socius]
12. south.
13. southern.
14. Sunday.


1. school.
2. section.
3. see.
4. series.
5. shilling.
6. sign.
7. signed.
8. silver.
9. singular.
10. sire.
11. small.
12. society.
13. son.
14. south.
15. southern.
16. stem.
17. substantive.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. used to form possessives

When a singular noun refers to a person or animal, you form the possessive by adding 's.

I heard Elena's voice.
They asked the boy's name.
Everyone admired the princess's dress.
She patted the horse's nose.

When a plural noun ends in s, you form the possessive by adding an apostrophe '.

I try to remember my friends' birthdays.
He borrowed his parents' car.

When a plural noun does not end in s, you form the possessive by adding 's.

She campaigned for women's rights.
The children's toys go in this box.

When a name ends in s, you usually form the possessive by adding 's.

We went to Carlos's house.
I'm in Mrs Jones's class.

In formal writing, the possessive of a name ending in s is sometimes formed by adding an apostrophe '.

This is a statue of Prince Charles' grandfather, King George VI.

You don't usually add 's to nouns that refer to things. For example, don't say 'the building's front'. Say 'the front of the building'.

We live at the bottom of the hill.
She'll be back at the end of August.
2. pronouns

You can add 's to the following pronouns:

Sometimes it helps to talk about one's problems.
One of the boys was riding on the back of the other's bike.

The possessive forms of other pronouns, for example my, your, and her, are called possessive determiners.

3. other uses of possessives

In British English, you can add 's to a person's name to refer to the house where they live. For example, 'I met him at Lisa's' means 'I met him at Lisa's house'.

She was invited to a party at Ravi's.

British speakers also use words ending in 's to refer to shops and places offering services. For example, they talk about a butcher's, a dentist's, or a hairdresser's.

There's a newsagent's on the corner of the street.
I went to the doctor's because I kept getting headaches.

You can use be and a short noun phrase ending in 's to say who something belongs to. For example, if someone says 'Whose is this coat?', you can say 'It's my mother's'.

One of the cars was his wife's.
Why are you wearing that ring? It's Tara's.

Be Careful!
Don't use this construction in formal writing. Instead use belong to. You also use belong to with a longer noun phrase. For example, say 'It belongs to the man next door'. Don't say 'It is the man next door's'.

The painting belongs to someone I knew at university.
4. other uses of 's

Apart from its use in possessives, 's has three other uses:

  • It can be a shortened form of is, especially after pronouns.
He's a novelist.
It's fantastic.
There's nothing to worry about.
  • It can be a shortened form of has when has is an auxiliary verb.
He's got a problem.
She's gone home.
  • It can be a shortened form of us after let.
Let's go outside.
Let's not argue.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012


he’s etc = he is/has; what’s = what is/has/does?
(genitive) John’s bookJohns Buch; my brother’s cardas Auto meines Bruders; at the Browns’bei den Browns; at the butcher’sbeim Fleischer
let’s = let us
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
head configuration: agreement pattern Case-checking type: construction type Dutch Checking in Spec- Saxon genitive head configuration: Jans auto construct pattern John-s car doubling possessive Jan z'n auto John his car `John's car' of insertion: analytic construction analytic pattern de auto van Jan the car of John Checking in Spec- d.n.a.
The analytic construction features the adposition van; the Saxon genitive displays the grammatical elements -s on the possessor.
Let us next turn to the Saxon genitive construction, which has the possessor in prenominal position.
(de) broers van Jan (the) brothers of Jan More strikingly perhaps, the Saxon genitive construction and the doubling construction display the (construct state) property of (in)definiteness inheritance: the definiteness value of the head noun depends on the +/- definite status of the possessor.
A notable property of the Saxon genitive is the presence of what could be called the possessive morpheme -s.
As for the formal expression of the Saxon genitive, we can say that, similarly to the Moroccan Arabic construct state, the genitive case on the possessor is not morphologically realized in the form of an adposition or some case morpheme.
Properties of Agr in the possessive noun phrase of Dutch Property Analytic construction Saxon genitive AgrP not projected projected Phonological matrix d.n.a.
projection of Agr(P) analytic construction: in possessive construction d.n.a, Saxon genitive: present doubling possessive: present 2.
Comparison of the (nominal) construct state and the Saxon genitive (a hidden construct state; see Longobardi 1996) shows that the two languages differ in the aspects mentioned in Table 12.
Instantiations of bound morphology surfacing in the target possessive constructions, the Saxon genitive and the doubling possessive construction, are not attested in the adult [L.sub.2] data: the possessive clitic -s appearing in the Saxon genitive is absent,(39) and so are instantiations of the weak (i.e.
To a somewhat lesser extent, children are producing possessor-initial structures of the Saxon genitive type (cf.
(57) T42-5 deze pan z'n dopje this pan his cover `the cover of the pan' As indicated by the last column (the target state) in Table 15, all 16 children reach a stage in which they produce target possessive constructions, instantiating either the clitic -s of the Saxon genitive or a possessive pronominal clitic.