Is it Women’s or Womens?

When making the word women possessive, do you write it women’s or womens? This guide will help you get it right every time.

In the English language, many words have slightly irregular formations. The word women is one of those. This plural of the word woman is not created with an s or es ending, but rather by changing the ending to en.

So what do you do when you want to make the word possessive? Is it women’s or womens? This tricky apostrophe can make it difficult to get the word right, but using proper English grammar is essential.

This guide will help you know the proper punctuation of this word.

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Women’s or Womens: Apostrophe or no Apostrophe

Is it women's or womens

If you are writing about women’s rights, do you use women’s or womens? Ask any English teacher or grammarian, and you will learn that these are common questions. Possessive forms of irregular words can feel confusing. 

To understand this discrepancy, take a few steps back to the origin of the word woman.

Etymology of Woman

The word woman dates back to the Old English time when many words were pluralized with -en instead of -s or -es. Thus, the plural of chick was chicken and the plural of brother was brethren. 

The plural of woman was women, and that has stuck around in modern English. You might be interested in our list of adjectives for strong women.

Correct Possessive Form of Women

If you are going to make the possessive form of the word women, you would write it like this:

  • Women’s

This word is the plural form of woman with the apostrophe s that indicates a possessive noun.

When women’s is made into possessive, it becomes an attributive noun. The word serves as an adjective to describe something else in the sentence and show possession of that item. 

Common Errors Made with Women’s

Unfortunately, this plural word seems to trip people up when written in the possessive case. Some common errors include:

  • Womens’s
  • Womens
  • Womans’

Linguistics may play part of a role in these errors. We cannot hear an apostrophe spoken, so womens sounds correct when read out loud. The word woman’s is the possessive form of the singular form of the word, and thus it can be correct in certain scenarios. 

Example Sentences Using Women’s Correctly

Women's or womens
The plural of woman was women, and that has stuck around in modern English

Here are some example sentences that use the plural noun women in the possessive case correctly:

  • The young women’s clothing choice left something to be desired for the formal event.
  • After asking where the women’s department was, the shopper looked up, saw the sign and answered her own question.
  • The American women’s rights activist knew she had a long march ahead of her, so she wore good tennis shoes.

Other Tricky Possessive Words

Women’s is just one of many possessive nouns that can get tricky. As you learn to sue possessives correctly, keep your eyes out for these challenging words:

  • Men: men’s
  • Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones’
  • Passersby: Passersby’s
  • Who: whose
  • He: his
  • She: her
  • You: your
  • They: their

A Final Word on Women’s or Womens

Women’s and womens get confused because the word often has the wrong punctuation even in published places. It’s not uncommon to see “womens department” at your local retail store, rather than “women’s department.” 

However, this is a possessive word, and as such it gets spelled with an apostrophe s. Any other spelling is incorrect. So the next time you see the word “womens” before another noun, remember that it needs an apostrophe to fulfill current English grammar rules.

FAQs about Women’s or Womens

What is the possessive form of the word women?

The possessive form of the word women is women’s. It always has an apostrophe s at the end. 

Is the correct punctuation women’s or womens?

If you see a phase spelled with womens without the apostrophe, it is incorrect. This possessive word always has an apostrophe.

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.