Business’s or Business’ EXPLAINED: What’s the Difference?

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You may have observed the distinction between Business's and Business' if you are particular about grammar and punctuation.

Which one should you use, and what is the difference? I will examine the disparity between the two and their significance in this blog post and offer suggestions on the proper use of possessive apostrophes in your writing. 

The ‘business’ word explained

Let's begin by defining what we mean by “business” before discussing the difference between Business's and Business'. 

Business's or Business' EXPLAINED_ What's the Difference_

An organization or venture engaged in commercial, professional, or industrial activities can be referred to as a business.

Those who engage in efforts and activities to create and sell goods or services for profit are also known as individuals who make and sell things.

Since countable nouns are quantifiable, you are able to determine the number of businesses operating in your region. An uncountable noun has no singular or plural form.

Business, as a noun, can be used as either a subject or object in various sentences in terms of grammar.

From small single-industry businesses to multinational setups with multiple industries, organizations can vary in size and profitability. Either an individual or a group of investors can own a business. 

Putting that aside, let’s now analyze the difference between Business's and Business'. 

What is a possessive apostrophe?

A punctuation mark indicating ownership or possession is a possessive apostrophe in English.

The possessor word has an apostrophe 's' added to the end to indicate the association or belonging of the following noun. For example, ownership of something by someone is demonstrated by 'Ella's horse' and 'Tom's book.'

Although they may seem complicated, apostrophes are essential for writing with clarity and precision.

Singular nouns require the addition of an apostrophe 's' after the possessor word, whereas singular pronouns like hers, ours, and yours do not need an apostrophe before the 's.'

Plural nouns ending with 's' only require an apostrophe at the end of the word. The apostrophe 's' is added at the end for every plural noun. For example, “children's toys” and “students' books.”

Although some people refer to possessive nouns as plural nouns because of their suffix '-s', they are not the same.

A possessive noun phrase is composed of two parts: the 'possessor' and the 'possessed'. The entity that owns or possesses something is referred to as the possessor, while the entity being linked to the possessor is known as the possessed.

A combination of a subject and a linking verb -  like “he's” - are contractions and not possessive nouns. Also, plural nouns are created by adding either the suffix “-s,” “-es,” or “-ies” to singular nouns. Plural nouns do not require the use of apostrophes.

People often make common mistakes in using possessive nouns, which can be tricky. Using apostrophes in pronouns like “its” and “theirs”, which do not require one, is a common mistake. 

Using apostrophes in plural nouns that do not possess anything, such as “CDs” is another common error that should not be written as “CD’s.”

The possessive forms of 'business' - 'business's' and 'business'' - best illustrate the complexity of the rules for possessive nouns.

The former is more complex, while the latter is simpler. Which one should you actually use?

Business's or business' – which one to use?

When writing, it’s important to use a grammar checker to ensure that you use the correct grammar and punctuation, including knowing when to use possessive forms of nouns. One common confusion is the difference between business’s and business’. 

Business's or business' – which one to use

The term “business’s” is the possessive form of “business,” while “businesses” are the plural form of “business.” The word “business” is a common noun. Without adding “es,” it is singular and represents a single company.

Making words plural in English grammar requires adding 'es' at their ends. Adding “es” to the end of “business” makes it plural, indicating multiple companies or organizations. But when the apostrophe s (‘s) is added, it indicates ownership or possession. 

When you talk about more than one entity called ‘business,’ you use ‘businesses’.’ If you want to show possession or ownership by an individual or group, “business” then becomes “business's.”

Different fields have different writing styles. For instance, journalists and news writers use the Associated Press (AP) guidelines, while social and behavioral scientists follow the American Psychological Association (APA). 

Similarly, book writers, editors, and publishers adhere to the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), and people in the field of arts and humanities follow the Modern Language Association (MLA).

So, which one should you use when writing? Let’s take a look at what each style guide recommends.

Associated Press (AP)

AP style recommends using the Saxon genitive 's for singular nouns ending in 's', unless the noun is a singular proper name such as 'Achilles' or 'Nicholas'.

Therefore, “business’s” is the default choice in journalism and news writing.

Sentence construction must only have an apostrophe added if the target word is the plural form of 'business', however.

Examples:

  • The business’s purpose is to increase information accessibility among indigenous groups and the locals below the poverty line.
  • The business's success can be attributed to its innovative marketing strategies and customer-centric approach.

American Psychological Association (APA)

The recommendation given by APA is that one should use ‘Business’s’ instead of Business’, since the last letter s sounds loud.

Examples:

  • The business’s revenue has significantly increased since its new marketing strategy was implemented.
  • The business’s expansion plans are contingent on securing additional funding from investors.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)

The CMS suggests using “business’s” rather than “business’”.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)

For CMS, all singular noun forms are added with the Saxon genitive ‘s regardless of its final letter (e.g., Descartes’s, business’s, Troels’s, class’s).

Examples:

  • Manpower is every business’s most valuable asset.
  • The business’s reputation was at stake after the scandal, but they managed to restore it with a sincere apology and corrective actions.
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Modern Language Association (MLA)

According to the guidelines of MLA, possessive forms of plural nouns ending in "s" only require an apostrophe, such as businesses’. It is incorrect to add an additional "s" after the apostrophe as in "businesses's".

However, singular nouns that end in "s" still require an apostrophe and an additional "s" to indicate possession.

For instance, the possessive form of "business" is "business's" and not "business'."

Examples:

  • A business's financial performance depends on several factors, including sales growth and cost control.
  • In today's highly competitive marketplace, a business's ability to innovate can be a key differentiator.

The evolution of possessive apostrophes: why does it matter?

Using possessive apostrophes correctly is essential in written communication, particularly in business. One's attention to detail and professionalism are reflected. 

Although the history of apostrophes dates back to the 16th century, the rules have evolved over time. There are more particular instructions on the proper usage of them today. 

Using apostrophes incorrectly can cause confusion and misunderstandings, which may affect business transactions and relationships. For instance, two commonly confused words that can lead to misunderstanding are it's and its.

Using possessive apostrophes incorrectly can give a negative impression of a business's attention to detail and quality of work. 

Understanding the grammatical rules and thoroughly proofreading written communication is crucial to avoid such errors. Businesses can ensure that their messages are clear, concise, and professional by doing so.

Tips for using possessive apostrophes correctly

Many people find it confusing to use possessive apostrophes correctly, although it is an important part of writing.

Tips for using possessive apostrophes correctly

To assist you, keep these tips in mind:

  • Apostrophes indicate possession or contraction, not pluralization. Remember this. For instance, dogs are plural and do not need an apostrophe, whereas 'dog's' is possessive and does need an apostrophe.
  • An apostrophe and “s” should be added to indicate ownership of singular nouns. Sarah's book or the cat's whiskers, for instance.
  • To indicate possession for plural nouns ending in s, simply add an apostrophe. For instance, the girls' toys or the dogs' collars.
  • To indicate possession for irregular plural nouns, such as children or men, add an apostrophe and s. For instance, the playground for kids or the locker room for men.

Final thoughts

Understanding the proper use of possessive apostrophes is crucial for writing accurately and clearly. Although it may seem complex, following the basic rules can help avoid common errors. 

Business's indicates ownership or possession, whereas businesses is the plural form in terms of the possessive forms of business.

Each field has its own writing styles and guidelines, including AP, APA, CMS, and MLA. Following the guidelines of the relevant field is recommended.

Most commonly used style guides accept both—business's and business’—as being valid when representing possession for the noun, business. In simpler terms, both variations are seen as correct.

To indicate possession of the noun 'business', writers may choose between two available and optional forms.

However, business's is the recommended form

All in all, it ultimately hinges on your own liking and commitment to following style guidelines. Maintain consistency throughout your writing and either option will be grammatically correct.

Just remember that proper grammar and punctuation can establish credibility and ensure effective communication regardless of the field.

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