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It was a moment too good to pass up – I was running a few errands when I spied this grammatical gaffe. Apostrophe placement causes a lot of uncertainty – should one be placed before or after the “s”? Why?

I’m sure the author of this sign meant to boldly declare that his store would match the sale prices of any competitor. That all depends on how many competitors there are to begin with.

If there is one competitor, the apostrophe is placed after the word and before the “s,” like this:

We match all competitor’s ads.

I have a feeling this store has several competitors. We naturally end the word “competitors” with an “s” as we’re speaking, meaning more than one competitor. In that case, the sign should read:

We match all competitors’ ads.

If you start with only one of something, end the word with apostrophe + s. Even if it already ends with an “s.” Yes, even if it already ends with an “s.” For example:

Chris’s bike is shiny and red.

But if you’re already starting with a plural amount, end the word with s + apostrophe. Like this:

The boys’ bikes are shiny and red.

Let’s move on to the second part of this sign. “We match all competitor’s ad’s.”

The fact that “ad” was given an apostrophe + s indicates a possessive. But in this case, what exactly belongs to the ad? It’s a good question to ask if you’re in doubt. What belongs to the item I’m giving ownership to? If the answer is nothing, it doesn’t get an apostrophe anything. Because the author of this sign means he’ll match the prices of more than one ad, it should read:

We match all competitors’ ads.

I’m glad they’re able to offer the option of matching prices, because it makes my life a little easier. Hope this helps and makes your grammatical life a little easier, too!

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