When I learned English at school 's was described as the mark of possession, a case of genitive.

But in the rhetorical Eat at Joe's, what does the 's mean exactly. Is it a shortcut for Joe's place or restaurant, or something different? Is this construction used in other contexts?

  • 1
    I feel like this is an exact duplicate of a past question, but I can't find it at the moment. Here are two close ones though: Ellipsis with apostrophe?, The possessive S should not be before the noun that it belongs to?.
    – Em.
    Sep 2, 2018 at 1:35
  • @Em. While the questions are not the same, their answers provide elements of answer to this one, but 'the-baby-is-you' post is also informative. At first sight, this 's' suffix is equivalent to French 'chez' (the place someone lives or runs a business, though 'chez' can also mean, in addition, a group of persons -- Kennedy, rich, children, or living things -- mammals). In French it's not a mark of possession, it rather denotes the location or membership.
    – mins
    Sep 2, 2018 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


Lots of restaurant names are formulated that way. The restaurant might officially be called "Joe's Place," "Joe's Burgers," "Joe's Italian," or just "Joe's," and in any of these cases people familiar with the place would hear "Joe's" and understand that it was being referred to.

"Joe's" could also be the home of a friend named Joe. You could say "I'm going to Joe's after work to help him with a project." As far as I can think of these are the only uses where the possessive works in isolation.

  • What you say about restaurants is true, but this can extend to other businesses as well. In an extreme example, I sometimes hear "Wally's" being used as a slang term for the retail chain Wal-Mart.
    – J.R.
    Sep 2, 2018 at 3:54

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