Understanding Williams’ or Williams’s? Singular and Plural Possessives Made Simple

When it comes to showing possession in English, things can get a bit tricky, especially with names ending in “s”. “Williams” is a perfect example of where people often get confused. Should you add an apostrophe + s (‘s) or just an apostrophe (‘)?

This guide will simplify the rules for using “Williams’” or “Williams’s” to indicate singular possessive, plural possessive, and plural forms. Plus, we’ll use a table to make everything clearer!

Singular Possessive

When to Use Williams’s

When to Use Williams’s

When we talk about something belonging to one person named Williams, we often add an apostrophe + s (‘s) to show that singular possession. This follows the modern style recommended by many style guides, which suggest adding ‘s to singular nouns ending in “s”.

Example: Mr. Williams’s car is parked outside.

However, it’s important to note that some traditional style guides and personal preferences may opt for just using an apostrophe after the “s” in singular names ending in “s”.

Read More: Understanding “Jess’ or Jess’s?” – A Guide to Singular, Plural, and Possessive Forms

Plural Possessive

When to Use Williams’

When we are talking about something belonging to a family named Williams or multiple people named Williams, we first make the name plural (Williamses) and then add an apostrophe (‘) at the end to show possession.

Example: The Williams’ house is the biggest on the block.

Here, it implies that the house belongs to the Williams family, not just one person named Williams.

Plural Forms

Making Williams Plural

To talk about more than one person named Williams or to refer to the family as a unit without showing possession, we add “es” to the end of Williams, making it Williamses.

Example: There are three Williamses in our class.

Table for Clarity

Let’s break down these rules into a simple table to make it easier to understand:

FormWhen to UseExample
Williams’sSingular possessiveMr. Williams’s car
Williams’Plural possessive (after making Williams plural as Williamses)The Williams’ house
WilliamsesPlural form (no possession)Two Williamses were at the party

Tips for Remembering

  • Singular Possessive: If one person named Williams owns something, use “Williams’s” or “Williams’” (depending on the style guide you follow).
  • Plural Possessive: If the possession belongs to the whole Williams family or multiple people named Williams, make the name plural first (Williamses) and then just add an apostrophe (Williams’).
  • Plural Form: When talking about more than one person named Williams without indicating possession, simply add “es” (Williamses).


The English language can be tricky, especially with possessive forms, but remember, the key is consistency. Whether you choose “Williams’s” or “Williams’” for singular possessive forms, stick to your choice throughout your writing. This guide should help you navigate the complexities of possessive forms with ease, making your writing clearer and more correct. Remember, the goal is to communicate effectively, and understanding these rules is a big step in the right direction.

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