Problem: Reader Judy Woodliff asked us whether "elders retreat" should carry an apostrophe after the "s" in "elders" to make it possessive.
Lesson: It depends on the function of the word "elders." Because it's being used in a descriptive form rather than a possessive form (It's a retreat for elders, not belonging to elders), "elders retreat"—no apostrophe—would be correct.
Other examples: Teachers college (a college for teachers, not owned by teachers), vacationers paradise.
Exceptions: Irregular plural nouns—those not ending in "s"—often still require an apostrophe "s" to appear correct. Example: "women's conference," not "womens conference."
Peeved by a common error? Puzzled by perplexing grammar rules? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Grammar." Or call us at (703) 905-4850.
- 14 Tips on Business Etiquette No matches