There is a ball on the playground. Is it one kid’s ball, or does it belong to everyone on the playground? The placement of the apostrophe is key, but which is correct: “kid’s” or “kids’”?
The difference between kid’s and kids’ is that when you are describing something that belongs to one “kid,” you will need an apostrophe first and then an -s to create “kid’s”. But if there is something that belongs to many kids, you will need one -s, followed by an apostrophe to create “kids'”. If you want to communicate plurality alone, you will add an -s to create “kids.”
You will never write “kids’s” because the first -s already indicates the plural form. Let’s explore the world of nouns and apostrophes. They may sound scary, but you can easily conquer them. Continue reading to learn more.
Understanding the Multiple Meanings of “Kid”
While the definition of “kid” we are looking at here is for a young person, this word has multiple meanings and uses, so you’ll want to be sure that you are using the right one. The dictionary definition of “kid” is simply “child” (source).
“Kid” is also more of a slang term, so just note that you will want to avoid it in formal writing. A more formal word choice or synonym for “kid” is “child,” as the dictionary definition dictates. Other synonyms that you can choose are little one, toddler, boy, girl, etc.
“Kid” is primarily a noun, but you can use it in different ways. You can also write “kid” as a verb and as an adjective. We’ll go through each use in more detail next.
“Kid” as a Noun
Most often, you’ll find “kid” written as a noun, referring to a child or young person.
- At only 15, he’s just a kid.
Here, “kid” is a noun, and it is identifying the pronoun he. Also, remember that a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.
- She’s like a kid in a candy store because she is so excited.
Here, “kid” is also a noun, but it is part of a larger simile — a comparison between two things using “like” or “as.” She is acting as a “kid.” She is acting kid-like or childlike.
A young goat is also known as a “kid,” which is, of course, also a noun. The phrase “kid gloves” describes a pair of gloves made out of a young goat (source). You may hear someone say to handle a situation with “kid gloves,” which means to handle it delicately or carefully.
“Kid” as a Verb
Another use of “kid” is as a verb. Again, remember that a verb is a word that describes an action, state, or occurrence. The meaning here refers to “joking around.” Below are two examples of how you can use “kid” as a verb in this context.
- All of the children want to kid around.
The children “kid” or “joke” around.
- I am just kidding.
Here, adding the -ing suffix simply indicates a present participle or continuous tense of the verb, “to kid.”
“Kid” as an Adjective
You can also write “kid” as an adjective when describing someone younger, such as a sibling. Remember that an adjective modifies or describes a noun.
- This is my kid brother.
“Kid” is describing a brother. The brother is younger than the person speaking.
In this article, we primarily focus on the definition of “kid” as a child or young person, so make sure you distinguish the differences to avoid any confusion when using the term in your writing.
Singular, Plural, and Possessive Nouns
A possessive noun is a noun that possesses or owns something. But is one kid’s trash another kids’ treasure? Which spelling is correct?
As we said earlier, the term “kid” is a singular noun for one child. “Kids,” with an -s at the end, is the plural form, meaning two or more children.
If we add an apostrophe-s at the end of “kid,” the trash belongs to one kid. If there are multiple kids, we will add an apostrophe at the end of the word (after the s), and the treasure belongs to all of the kids.
- Singular Possessive: Kid’s
- Plural Possessive: Kids’
What Is the Possessive Form for One “Kid”?
Because “kid” is a singular noun, to add possession, you will always add an apostrophe-s to make the singular possessive word “kid’s” (source). Possessive nouns like “kid’s” often function as modifiers before an object of possession, which is another noun.
- My kid’s balloon became stuck in the tree.
One “kid” has lost his balloon in the tree.
Singular possessive nouns are pretty simple. You’ll need the standard apostrophe-s to show possession. Next, you’ll see examples of these types of nouns and how to place the apostrophe correctly.
Singular Possessive Nouns that Do Not End in S
Most singular nouns do not end in -s. Again, to make a noun “possess” whatever belongs to it, you will add an apostrophe with an -s. Here are some examples:
|Singular Sentence||Possessive Sentence|
|My kid is flying his plane.||My kid’s plane is flying.|
|The instrument has a beautiful sound.||The instrument’s sound is beautiful.|
|The hair is everywhere from her cat.||Her cat’s hair is everywhere.|
|My mom has lost her hairbrush.||My mom’s hairbrush is lost.|
These sentences show how singular nouns “possess” the objects we are focused on. There is no difference regarding how many items something or someone can own. One “possessor” means you’ll need to add an apostrophe-s.
Placement of Apostrophes Are Important
Punctuation marks are essential to any sentence. Apostrophes are punctuation marks that you use to indicate ownership, plurals of lowercase letters, or the omission of letters and numbers (source).
For nouns, they indicate the possessive form. A good way to see if the noun should indicate possession or ownership of an object is to place the phrase “of the….” in front.
- The man’s cane → the cane of the man
- The dog’s bone → the bone of the dog
These show the singular possessive form we mentioned above.
- The cats’ food bowls → the bowls of the cats
- The dogs’ bones → the bones of the dogs
These show the plural possessive that we will discuss in more detail next.
What Is the Plural Possessive of More than One Kid: “Kids”?
To write the plural of “kid,” you simply add an -s at the end, as we indicated earlier. “Kids” is now a plural noun relating to two or more kids. If you want to show that more than one kid possesses an object, you’ll need to add an apostrophe after the -s, making it “kids’.”
The main difference between singular possessive and plural possessive is the placement of the apostrophe. In the former, you’ll add the apostrophe before the -s. In the latter, you’ll place the apostrophe after the -s.
You will never use “kids’s” or add a second -s in this context because it is redundant, given the “s” is already part of the word, indicating plurality. Here’s an example:
- We are taking the kids to the store.
Two or more “kids” are going to the store. “Kids” is a plural noun. If you want to show possession for all of the kids involved, you will write it like this:
- The kids’ new toys are from the store.
Note that the plural noun will also match a plural object. In other words, because “kids” is plural, the objects that belong to them should also be plural (as in toys above), unless you are speaking of a single thing that belongs to many kids, such as one toy belonging to many kids, like this:
- The kids’ ball is orange.
Here, one ball belongs to many kids.
Plural Possessive Nouns Ending in S
We use a plural possessive noun when two or more people or things have ownership of one or more items. In English, most plural nouns already end in -s, with a few exceptions.
For these words, the rule is to add an apostrophe at the end with no additional -s since the “s” is already present.
Consider the examples in the following table.
|Plural Sentence||Possessive Sentence|
|The moms have their meeting every Tuesday morning.||The moms’ group meets every Tuesday morning.|
|The school supplies for the kids are ready for you to pick up.||The kids’ school supplies are ready for you to pick up.|
|Have the dresses of the bridesmaids come in yet?||Have the bridesmaids’ dresses come in yet?|
The above words are correct as is — they do not need an extra -s after the apostrophe. The same is true with “kids.” Let’s take one more look at possession for the plural form, kids.
- The kids’ toys are all over their room.
Since “kids” is already in the plural form, you only need to add an apostrophe to make it possessive.
The Oddballs of the Bunch
Still, not all plural nouns end in -s, which we alluded to earlier. Instead, there are irregular nouns where the spelling of the base word changes.
- One man’s versus many men’s
- One woman’s versus many women’s
- One child’s versus many children’s
These examples show how you would use these nouns in a sentence:
- I need to clean the women’s restroom.
- The children’s zoo is now offering free Wednesdays.
- I need to clean the oxen’s stable.
- The geese’s nests are around the pond.
Plural possessive nouns like “men’s,” “women’s,” and “children’s” fit in a small group that grammarians refer to as irregular possessive nouns. These are the plural possessive forms of nouns that don’t add or end in -s when they become plural.
Is It Kid’s or Kids’ Menu?
You’re in the restaurant with your family, and you have two “kids” with you. The waitress hands them their own menus. Now comes the question: is it a kid’s menu or kids’ menu?
The answer depends on how many kids are involved. If there is one kid, it will be a “kid’s menu.” If there are two or more “kids” with multiple menus, you will write it as “kids’ menus.” If you have more than one kid sharing a single menu, you could write “kids’ menu.”
Traditionally, for restaurants, you’ll write the plural possessive form for kids (kids’) because the menu is for all kids, in general, unless you are speaking of one child with one kid’s menu.
- I am looking at my kid’s menu to help her figure out what she wants to eat.
- The restaurant handed them kids’ menus.
However, many unknowingly use the plural noun “kids” as an attributive noun, a noun that functions as an adjective, and they omit the apostrophe.
While it is fairly common to see “kids menu,” academic writing styles like The Chicago Manual of Style (7.27) discourage similar constructions like “farmers market” in favor of the plural possessive (source).
Kid’s Meals or Kids’ Meals
Fast food places often have unique menus and meals for “kids,” so a similar question emerges, “Are they ‘kid’s meals’ or ‘kids’ meals?’”
If you are looking through the drive-thru, you will probably see “kids meals,” which informally uses “kids” as an attributive noun without the apostrophe. Instead, if many kids are eating meals, it’s best to write it as “kids’ meals.” If there is only one kid, you’ll write it as a single kid’s meal.
- What options does Burger King have for a kids’ meal?
- The kids’ meals are delicious.
- The mom helps unpack her kid’s meal.
Kid’s or Kids’ Clothing
Similarly, when discussing clothing, you can write either “kid’s” or “kids’,” depending on the context.
If you look at some store websites, you may see clothing listed as “kids’ clothing.” However, you may find “kids” functioning as an attributive noun without indicating possession, but “children’s” should always be in the plural possessive according to CMOS 7.27.
If you go into a store, signs will generally be under kids’ (plural possessive) or simply “kids” (plural). Nonetheless, when there is one child involved, it is one “kid’s” clothes.
- My kid’s clothes are getting too small.
- The kids’ clothing is upstairs, next to the escalator.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
You may also find “children’s” rather than “kids” or “kids’.” “Children” is the plural form for “child” and is more formal, which many stores prefer.
- The children’s clothing is next to the shoes.
For more information on possessive nouns and how to use them, check out “Children’s or Childrens’: Understanding Proper Usage of the Possessive Noun.”
Also, check out “Week’s or Weeks’: Singular, Plural, and Possessive” to see more examples about how to use nouns in singular, plural, and possessive forms.
The plural possessive form for “kids” is part of the long list of tricky words and rules in the world of English grammar. Knowing where to use the apostrophe and how to use the correct possessive form is important, however.
The singular possessive form would be “kid’s,” while the plural possessive would be “kids’.”
And when you learn the steps and grammar, the rules become a lot simpler with practice while also becoming a significant asset to your learning and writing.