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Parties or Party’s: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between “party’s” and “parties,” you ask? Well, it’s definitely not the first time someone stumbled over that question. Grammar, even in its simplest form, can often reduce adept wordsmiths to panic. 

“Parties” is the correct plural form of either the noun or verb form of “party”. “Party’s” can serve as the singular possessive or as a contraction of a statement, as in “the party is”. Each has its distinct use and purpose and they are not simply interchangeable ways to pluralize the word “party.”

This article will discuss the meaning and differences of “party,” “parties,” and “party’s.” We’ll touch briefly on how we use the apostrophe to show ownership and to shorten two words into one. We’ll also discuss how to identify plurals ending in -ies versus -ys.

Parties vs. Party’s: What Each Word Means

In order for us to ascertain the difference in spelling between “parties” and “party’s,” we first need to define each by their part of speech. We use “parties” as a plural verb or noun, while we only use “party’s” for the noun form.

The Meaning of Party 

When we think of the word “party,” most of us envision a fun-filled day in the sun surrounded by balloons, friends, family, finger food, and music. While this is a standard connection our minds make to the word “party,” there are other types and uses. 

Before we can begin to build an understanding of “party” in the plural form, we must first understand how to use it as both a verb and a noun (source).

We use the word “party” as both a verb, for instance, “let’s party!” or as a noun, “a dinner party.”

Party as a Noun: Social Gathering or Special Occasion

We use the noun form of “party” to describe a social gathering or celebration. Let’s use a few examples:

Kate and Sarah are throwing a party later, and I can’t wait to go!
I’m going to organize a princess-themed party for my daughter’s 10th birthday.
Congratulations on graduating! When is the party? 
I’m thinking of hosting a surprise party for Jack; what date would suit everyone?

The following are examples of a particular type of party one may attend. Let’s begin with everyone’s favorite type of party, a birthday party. You may also attend other types of special occasions such as:

  • A welcome home or farewell party, a dinner party, and a costume party.
  • A fancy dress party, usually a black-tie event.
  • A bachelor party.

There is also a banquet (fancy occasion), gala (formal event), baby shower, and bridal shower. Although they do not include the word party, we often infer this.

When you attend a special-occasion party, many hosts provide a party favor, which is a gift the host gives to the attendees of the party and often the best part.

Party as a Noun: A Group of People

We also use “party” as a noun when speaking about or referring to a group of people. The group generally shares a similar purpose, interest, or is involved in a particular activity.

The aquarium was buzzing with an excitable school party out on their first field trip.
The tourist party made its way to the museum along with their tour group.
Harry’s dog ran away, but the search party found him chasing squirrels in the woods.

We use the word “party” as a noun to refer to a certain person or group of people. In doing so, we have taken away the mention of any names or personal details of those mentioned. It is a preferred method when relating members of society to the topic at hand in a more generalized manner.

When referring to someone involved in something, “party” is a noun. For instance, the “innocent party,” the “guilty party,” the “opposition party.”

The court gathered to hear the defense against the innocent party.
Police escorted the guilty party to the jail following sentencing.
Members of the public were able to hear speeches from the opposition party.

Party as a Political Group

We use the word “party” when referring to a political group. A political group is an organization or government group that shares the same or similar beliefs regarding politics and a country’s social, economic, and electoral laws. 

Examples of “party” as a group include “political party,” “electoral party,” “Democratic Party,” “Republican Party,” the “Libertarian Party,” and the “Socialist Party.”

What political party do you belong to?
I’m a devoted member of the Democratic Party.
I joined the Republican Party as soon as I was of voting age.
My friend considers herself a member of the Libertarian Party.
John Smith is our party leader.

Party as a Verb: to Attend or Throw a Party

When we refer to someone who likes to “party,” we’re describing an action they like to perform. Here, “party” functions as a verb, meaning celebrating, attending a party, or giving a party. It can also have the negative connotation of reveling or carousing.

They party a lot.
They partied all night long, right up until dawn.
The college students were so excited to have graduated that they celebrated by partying all week.

The Idiom Party To

We can also use “party” in the sense of being “party to” something. This means the person is involved in an agreement or action, sometimes in a negative sense (source).

I was not a party to that decision.
Tom was “party to” the illegal spray painting of the wall.

Parties: the Correct Plural Spelling

When you need to pluralize “party,” drop the -y and add -ies. This spelling is the only one that makes “party” plural. We use “parties” as both a noun and a verb, similar to the way we use the singular “party” (source). 

Parties as a Noun

We use “parties” as a noun to refer collectively to a particular type of party, for instance,  

“birthday parties,” “political parties,” “search parties,” and “innocent parties.” Let’s see examples of the event plus how we use “parties” in sentences. 

September is such a busy month; I have about five birthday parties to attend! 
The political parties used the podium to present their various speeches. 
The wildlife rangers called on several search parties to find an escaped lion. 
The dismissal of the innocent parties caused them to clap in delight.

Parties as a Verb: Third-Person Singular Simple Present Tense

When we use “parties” as a verb to speak about another person, we use the third-person singular simple present indicative tense (source). This tense refers to an action happening right now in the present. “Parties all night” is an example of this verb tense.

Kim doesn’t like it when he parties all night long.

We can also use “parties” as a verb referring to attending the said party, thereby converting it into an action word. Let’s use it in a few sentences.

Josh parties all night long, but he needs to focus on his college grades.
Jane parties all night long as if she didn’t have a job.

Understanding the Difference Between -ies and -ys

We consider a word ending in -ies as plural only if the root word ends in a consonant, which is any letter that is not a vowel, followed by -y. In this instance, we will change -y to -ies.

Word ending in a consonant + yPlural form of a word ending in -ies.
PartyParties
TrophyTrophies
CompanyCompanies
PuppyPuppies
CountryCountries

In contrast, a word ending in -ys is plural if the root word ends in a vowel, such as  “a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” or “u,” followed by a “y.” In this instance, we will change -y to -ys.

Word ending in the vowel “y”Plural form adding “s” after “y”
Journey Journeys
PlayPlays
ToyToys
DayDays

The Meaning and Use of Party’s

Beach, Wedding, Reception, Table Setting, Centerpieces
Image by Pexels via Pixabay

“Party’s” is neither plural nor a verb, yet, as with “parties,” “party’s” has more than one use. As well as only functioning as a noun, we can distinguish “party’s” from “parties” by the apostrophe, which can indicate ownership or a contraction.

Using Apostrophes to Show Ownership

When you need to show ownership of something, you add an apostrophe. For instance, we would use an apostrophe to show the ownership by a party.  

The party’s venue was so beautiful; it overlooked a shimmering lake and a gazebo!
The party’s jumping castle was the best purchase ever, and the kids absolutely loved it.

We use this, in general, to clearly show when a certain X belongs to a certain Y.

The comb belongs to Carl — It is Carl’s comb.
The book belongs to Harry — It is Harry’s book.
The classroom is where the children spend their day — It is the children’s classroom.
The hood is at the front of the car — It is the car’s hood. 

Using Apostrophes for Contractions

We also commonly use an apostrophe for contractions — shortening a sentence by combining two words that would otherwise be separate. When we want to say “the party is,” we use an apostrophe, “party’s,” making the sentence both easier to read and say. For example,

This party is a blast! I never want to leave!
This party’s a blast! I never want to leave! 

This party is by far the best one I have ever been to.
This party’s by far the best one I have ever been to.

The party is on 23 West Elm Street; be there at 11 pm!
The party’s on 23 West Elm Street; be there at 11 pm! 

With that in mind, let us have one last look at “parties” in a sentence so that we may best compare the two words.

September is such a busy month; I have about five birthday parties I have to go to!
Jennifer’s mom gets mad when she won’t stop going to parties and doesn’t study.
Kyle parties almost every weekend; I don’t know how he isn’t exhausted all the time! 
I have to choose between Henry and Jacob’s parties; unfortunately, I can’t make both.

Other Examples

This party is such a bore.
This party’s such a bore.

He cannot make the appointment because he is running late.
He can’t make the appointment because he is running late.

You are my best friend in the whole world.
You’re my best friend in the whole world.

It is such a beautiful day today.
It’s such a beautiful day today.

When to Use Party’s vs. Parties

To recap, we use “parties” when referring to the plural of a “party” (in any sense) or to describe the action of “partying” in the verb tense (as discussed earlier) (source). 

In the case of the word “party’s,” we use an apostrophe to show ownership or to shorten the two words into one (a contraction). In this instance, there is no use for an apostrophe to transform a word into a plural; “Parties” has that covered. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

For more information on using singular and plural forms and contractions, read our article on “everyone’s” compared to “everyone’s.”

Closed Sign ing On A Glass Item
Image by Ellie via Pexels

Final Thoughts

Now you can see how the meaning of “party” and “parties” remains the same within their noun and verb forms. In contrast, the contraction “party’s” means something belonging to the “party,” or one can also use “party’s” to shorten “the party is,” making it faster and easier to write or speak.

“Parties,” however, is the plural for the word “party” in either the noun or verb form. Keeping these distinctions in mind will aid you in using the correct spelling the next time you send out an invitation or write about a particular political, social, or group event.