You see it on your market’s signs.
You probably have to write it at least a dozen times a year.
Not everyone has the same understanding of basic English grammar to get it right every time. Here’s how an English teacher might explain it:
- Farmer’s Market: a market belonging to a single farmer.
- Farmers’ Market: a market belonging to, or made up of, more than one farmer.
- Farmers Market: a phrase that requires some punctuation, since its meaning is unclear.
How do you spell it? Farmers market, farmers’ market, or farmer’s market? I’ve seen it done each way, and the misspelling irks me like seeing my farm’s name spelled wrong on my mail. As my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Liston made us memorize, adding the apostrophe makes a noun possessive; adding it before the “s” makes it a singular possessive; adding an apostrophe after the “s” makes it a plural possessive.
Applying this rule we realize that when we talk about a farmer’s market, we are actually referring to a market belonging to one farmer. When we talk of a farmers’ market, we are referring to a market belonging to or made up of many farmers. If we don’t use any apostrophe at all, we’re just demonstrating that we’re afraid to guess.
So, let’s get it right. A group of farmers selling together is a farmers’ market.
And after all, it’s the Law. ‘Nuf said.