The Word is Photos NOT Photo’s

I am the last person, according to my husband, who should be giving a punctuation lesson.  One of his biggest pet peeves is apostrophe errors.  It has started rubbing off on me.

As a result today’s quick tip is a lesson in apostrophes.

An apostrophe does not mean “warning – an ‘s’ is coming.”  It indicates possession or a contraction. Those are the only two reasons to use one.

If you have more than one of something it gets an “s” not an ‘s or s’. While this bothers my husband daily, the time it grinds on my nerves most is when photographers write the word photo’s (to mean more than one photo).  That is incorrect.  Please stop.  You do not need to stop for me. But stop for yourself.  It looks unprofessional.  I want you to gain respect from those who read your words, your blogs, your sites.  So make sure unless that photo possesses something that there is not an apostrophe anywhere nearby.

That said, remember my grammar is not perfect, actually not close to perfect.  And I get corrected all the time.  So do not take it personally.  Just fix it now that you know.

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate.


Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 4


    And when customers what to put "The Smith's" on their greeting cards. The Smith's what? The Smith's dog? House? Tree? LOL I usually encourage them to say "The Smith Family." Gets around the whole sticky mess. 😀

  2. 10


    THANK YOU!!! Like your husband, apostrophe errors eat at me, too. The biggest offender in my book? When people have some sign/boulder/whatever by their front door and it has their name on it: The Smith’s
    The Smith’s what? The Smith’s rock? The Smith’s sign??? PLEASE people, stop marking your territory! :- D Really does drive me nuts, so I’m glad to see you’re shedding some light on the subject!

  3. 11


    Ohhh this is a good one! I had a lady argue with me that she should put a comma before the word and in their names. I just gave up. Bob, Mary, Joey, and Timmy. *sigh* And dont even get me started on their there and they're!!!

  4. 14


    Except for it, it’s, its’….those are a bit more confusing when it comes to apostrophes (see, no apostrophe’s!). I’m still trying to decipher the rules on THAT…

    But yeah, there’s nothing like seeing a blog or website with the word photo’s…when it isn’t signifying some type of possession. Thanks for this. Hope many “offenders” read and fix!

  5. 15

    Shelly LeBlanc says

    You are so funny!!! I am the Grammar Queen – misspellings and poor grammar drive me out of my mind. I usually only correct my husband though. Thank you for saying the words.
    Its vs. it’s is my pet peeve.

  6. 16


    not to start this as a pet peeve thread or anything, but it’s the rare person who uses the word comprise correctly!! something is not “comprised of.” it may be “composed of” other things, but it is not “comprised of” other things. a patchwork quilt comprises hundreds of pieces. a crowd comprises 250 people.

    that plus the ‘s, and also nucular. don’t get me started.

  7. 23


    thank you. thank you. i have seen apostrophe errors on posters and t-shirts from national chain stores and restaurants. Old Navy had a t-shirt last year that said “Local’s Only” — really? Old Navy doesn’t make enough money to employ a literate proofreader? (sorry, off soapbox :).

  8. 25

    Alexa says

    A HUGE pet peeve of mine too… It seems to be a common problem among photographers…. Also, words such as your and you’re. They mean different things! And its and it’s. Again, different meanings.

    Hopefully posts like this one can help us all to improve our writing.

  9. 26

    Annika Plummer says

    Thank you! I don’t know why it is so hard for people to understand the contraction/possessive rule. Thank you for showing everyone!

  10. 31


    Jodi will you please have a black friday sale???? Your Bag of Tricks is what I really want but the other people are wanting my money…sales you know…they are trying to get me. Don’t let me do it. :)

  11. 34


    Jodi, that mistake is so abused these days. It's as if people do not know the difference between a possessive and a plural. Plurals do not need apostrophes!And Heather, wasn't your client correct in asking for an Oxford comma? I've known many who say that it is optional, but it certainly isn't wrong. (At least when I learned about them.)Sigh…

  12. 35


    Ok, I wasn’t going to add one, but then I moved on checking my list of blogs and saw another famous photographer use this error again, twice, in one post. There seems to be much confusion about when to use “I” or “me” in a sentence. It’s actually an easy one to get right if you just follow this simple rule. For example, Tim and me are going shopping. You wouldn’t say “Me is going shopping”, so that sentence is incorrect. Always try out the sentence without the other person in it. More often I see the mistake made at the end of sentences where people are using I instead of me.
    Here’s an example I grabbed off the internet
    -Incorrect: “He gave the concert tickets to Mike and I.”
    -Correct: “He gave the concert tickets to Mike and me.”
    -If you want to know how to tell, simply take “Mike and” out of the sentence. You would not say he gave the tickets to I.

    My grammar is not perfect either but, I agree, the more we try to keep ourselves in check the more professional we will look! Thanks for all the great info Jodi!

  13. 38


    I agree, but my biggest grammar pet peeve is ending a sentence in a preposition! It is “Where are you?” NOT “Where are you at?”. Thank you. I feel better now that I have said it. 😉

  14. 42


    Thank you!

    I’m a punctuation and grammar nerd – but I make mistakes too. I also hate when people use “quite” for “quiet” or “to” for “too”.

    Thanks for helping us all!

  15. 43


    apostrophe … no apostrophe
    to or too
    there or their

    some of the reasons why I got D’s … or Ds ??? in English all through school.

    English is too (to?) complicated!


  16. 44


    YEEESSS! Thank you for stating this!
    And for those struggling with it’s or its…
    it’s = it is or it has
    its = possessive
    And Amen to no Happy Holiday’s!

    Merry Christmas!

  17. 45


    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Apostrophe misuse drives me crazy!!! I absolutely love your line, “An apostrophe does not mean ‘warning – an ’s’ is coming.’” I may have to use it.

  18. 46


    I cannot expres’s how much it bother’s me when people put apostrophe’s in the wrong place’s. :)

    BIGGEST PET PEEVE EVER! I also hate when people put there their and they’re in the wrong context as well.

  19. 47

    Phill says

    Actually photo’s can be correct. Photo isn’t actually a true word, it is a shortened form of photograph, because of it’s popular use, photo has become mainstreamed into the English language. So yes, photos is correct when you consider photo a word. If you would like to use completely correct English, then one would use the word photograph and when saying photo, it would just be a shortened version. Then proper English grammar sets in and you would use an apostrophe to connect the last letter of the pluralized form of photograph, the s, to the shortened form of the main word, photo. Hence, photo’s which is the same thing as photographs. English professor here, it’s been disputed a lot because of the confusion of photo being a word or not.

        • 50

          SL says

          I think he’s referring to “because of it’s popular use” near the start of the post.

          I get the point that “photo’s” COULD be a contraction of photographs but I doubt that’s the intention of most of the people who write “photo’s”, I strongly suspect they’re just gramatically challenged and would do the same for other plurals.

  20. 51

    Stuee says

    Adam W (No.45) has a point. Apostrophes can be used for plurals in some cases, especially for certain abbreviations or to clarify things for the reader…

    e.g. 1
    There are two i’s in skiing and three a’s in aardvark.

    e.g. 2
    He sent four SOS’s before anyone responded.

  21. 53

    Dan says

    I tend to agree with Phil. Though I would probably use Photos but it wouldn’t drive me crazy because it is a contraction of the word photographs.

  22. 54


    But surely the whole point is that photo IS a contraction, of photographs, so the apostrophe is used to illustrate that there are missing letters.

    Although I do realise that the apostrophe here has fallen out of usage – just as people do not write ‘papers or ‘phone, although technically grammatically they ought to.

  23. 55

    Andy_P says

    Quote from one of the other comments:

    Thank you! I don’t know why it is so hard for people to understand the contraction/possessive rule. Thank you for showing everyone!

    But is this a simple case? “Photo” *is* a contraction of “photograph”. So it could be argued thatthe apostrophe in “photo’s” is there to show the contraction and not a mistaken possessive at all/

  24. 56

    Nikki says

    Okay – the word “Photo” is in the Oxford English Dictionary as a proper word. The policy is that a new word is entered after it has been in common usage for ten years. Therefore the contraction is now more or less inadmissible. The Plural is “Photos” or “Photographs” depending on how you formal you wish to be. The listing in the OED is as follows, (note the plural)
    noun (plural photos)
    a photograph.
    informal a photo finish.
    verb (photoes, photoing, photoed)
    [with object] informal
    take a photograph of.
    I think that takes care of it.

    • 57

      Gary says

      Just because it is now in the dictionary doesn’t mean it isn’t a contraction from the original word, cant see that being a rule.

  25. 58

    georgia says

    I’ve wondered about this for a while, and I’m still undecided. The way I see it, there are two options:
    1) “Photos” – no apostrophe because it is simply the plural of ‘photo’.
    2) “Photo’s” – an apostrophe because it is an abbreviation of ‘photographs’.
    What are your thoughts? Perhaps something to think about.

  26. 59

    Just me says

    Are we talking about the word ‘photographs’ the plural form of photograph? If so then the correct form has to be photo’s because, as you correctly point out, it’s either the possessive form or a contraction and clearly in this case photo’s is a contraction of photographs.

    It is not ‘photos’ because that would be a pluralisation of the word photo and not photograph.

    It is becomes it’s, photographs becomes photo’s, both contractions. The apostrophe marks the missing letters. I fail to see the issue.

  27. 60

    Ben says

    No, you morons. Photos is correct. Photo’s is not correct. “Photos” is a real word now; it doesn’t matter that it’s a contraction of the word photographs, because in this case, it isn’t. As someone above mentioned, phone is a contraction of the word telephone, TECHNICALLY.

  28. 61


    The people that get the most angry are usually the ones that are wrong!

    There’s plenty of posts here explaining it correctly; true to English it would be photo’s (contraction), but if you allow photo to be a word in its own right, which perhaps we should, then photos is correct (and infact in this case photo’s does then become incorrect).

    as both are correct you should probably all calm down!

  29. 63

    William says

    Unless those writing ” photo’s ” are intending the apostrophe to indicate that the word ” photographs ” has been contracted.

  30. 65

    Meagan says

    Photo’s is actually correct in a sense (although admittedly it looks a little off). In the English language, an apostrophe in a contracted word signifies the omission of letters: i.e. can’t= can not, don’t= do not, y’all= you all (Southerners, please get this spelling right! Ya’ll makes no sense!). Although the word photo has become a widely used and accepted word, it was originally used as a slang term; it is a shortened word for photograph. Thus, when you omit the ‘graph’ from the word and add an s to signify plural photographs, it CAN become photo’s. Just sayin’.

  31. 67

    serena says

    An apostrophe is placed when it is used as an possessive or when lettes are missing from the word-two rules.

  32. 68


    Hello there, I completely condone correct use of grammar but I always believed that the apostrophe in ‘photo’s’ indicated the contraction from photographs? Can anybody comment on this?

  33. 69


    Photo’s is grammatically correct because it’s an abbreviation of the word ‘photographs’. But ‘photo’ has been around a while, and as so many people stick in an apostrophe incorrectly when an ‘s’ is added for a plural, why risk looking like you’ve made a mistake?

  34. 72

    Stuballs says

    Well, I wonder… if photo is a word then maybe the pluralisation should follow the pattern of other words that end with a consonant+’o’. Potatoes, tomatoes, tornadoes, echoes, embargoes, mosquitoes, volcanoes, photoes… 😉

  35. 73

    Tristan Kelly says

    Actually, Photo’s is a contraction of the word photographs. Hope this helps.


    (Correcting American’s spelling and grammar since 1974)


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