The possessive forms of abbreviations

In a previous language tip (available from the link below), we have dealt with how to form possessives of nouns and pronouns (i.e. marking that one thing belongs to something/someone). In this tip, we’ll zoom in on how to, for the lack of a better word, make abbreviations possessive.

The rule of thumb is that we form the possessive of abbreviations by adding an apostrophe and an –s:

  • BTECH’s roof renovation has just been completed.
  • In 2019, Aarhus University hosted a conference on UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.
  • NATO’s founding members are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The same goes for abbreviations ending with an –s or an –s sound:

  • Ejvinds ApS’s cookies are selling like hot cakes.
  • The study compared CBS’s and FOX’s news coverage.

However, please note that if an abbreviation is put in the plural by adding an -s, only an apostrophe is required:

  • Singular example: Everybody wanted to hear the CEO’s opinion on the matter. (There’s only one CEO.)
  • Plural example: Everybody wanted to hear the CEOs’ opinion on the matter. (There are two or more CEOs.)

When it comes to abbreviations ending with a period, we’ll use the above rule of thumb: Add an apostrophe and an –s:

  • Kejser et al.’s study on GVFB was ground-breaking.

Well, there you go. Hopefully, you now feel better prepared for tackling those daily ‘what’s the correct possessive form of this abbreviation’ challenges.

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