Help
lexigame.com the home of unique word games

Lexigame Community
May 27, 2019, 07:46:33 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with email, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Calendar Login Register  
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Possessive apostrophe for words ending in 's'  (Read 41721 times)
TRex
Glossologian
**
Posts: 1502


~50 miles from Chicago, in the Corn (maize) Belt


View Profile
« on: July 02, 2009, 02:30:19 AM »

Pursuant to earlier discussion, I have looked at some different books of grammar 'rules' and find inconsistency.

Fowler's
Quote
Use 's for the possessive case in English names and surnames whenever possible; i.e. in all monosyllables and disyllables, and in longer words accented on the penult, as Burns's, Charles's, Cousins's, Dickens's, Hicks's, St James's Square, Thomas's, Zacharias's. It is customary, however, to omit the 's when the last syllable of the name is pronounced /-IZ/, as in Bridges', Moses'. Jesus' is an acceptable liturgical archaism.

Quote
In ancient classical names use s' (not s's): Mars', Herodotus', Venus'. Ancient names written -es are usually written -es' in the possessive: Ceres' rites, Xerxes' fleet. In longer words of this type, -es' should also be used: Demosthenes', Euripides', Socrates', Themistocles'.
Normally, I rely on Fowler's, but I must say this is rather messy.

Next, Modern Language Association's MLA Style Manual:
Quote
To form the possessive of a plural noun ending in s, add only an apostrophe: photographers' exhibit
but
Quote
To form the possessive of any singular proper noun, add an apostrophe and an s: Dickens's reputation, Descartes's philosophy, Marx's precepts, 'Venus's beauty
but still
Quote
To form the possessive of a plural proper noun, add only an apostrophe: the Dickenses' economic woes, the Vanderbilts' estate
A wee bit simpler, but still messy.

Finally, the Chicago Manual of Style
Quote
7.17 Most nouns. The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns (except for a few irregular plurals that do not end in s) by adding an apostrophe only. This practice, used in conjunction with the exceptions and options outlined in 7.19-22, reflects the way possessive forms are generally pronounced and is largely faithful to Strunk and White's famous rule 1 ("Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's"). Since feelings on these matters sometimes run high, users of this manual may wish to modify or add to the exceptions. For an alternative practice, see 7.23. ...
the horses' mouth
a bass's stripes
puppies' paws
children's literature
a herd of sheep's mysterious disappearance

Quote
7.18 Proper nouns, letters, and numbers. The general rule covers most proper nouns, including names ending in s, x, or z, in both their singular and plural forms, as well as letters and numbers.
Kansas's legislature             the Williamses' new house
Chicago's waterfront            Malraux's masterpiece
Burns's poems                    Inez's diary
Marx's theories                   the Martinezes' daughter
Berlioz's works                    Josquin des Prez's motets
Strauss's Vienna                 dinner at the Browns' (that is, at the Browns' home)
Dickens's novels                 FDR's legacy
the Lincolns' marriage         1999's heaviest snowstorm
William's reputation

The rule applies equally to company names that include a punctuation point.
Yahoo!'s chief executive

Quote
7.19 Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning When the singular form of a noun ending in s looks like a plural and the plural form is the same as the singular, the possessive of both singular and plural is formed by the addition of an apostrophe only. If ambiguity threatens, use of to avoid the possessive.
politics' true meaning
economics' forerunners
this species' first record (or better, the first record of this species)

The same rule applies when the name of a place or an organization (or the last element in the name) is a plural form ending in s such as the United States, even though the entity is singular.
the United States' role in international law
Highland Hills' late mayor
Calloway Gardens' former curator
the National Academy of Sciences' new policy

Quote
7.20 Names like "Euripides." The possessive is formed without an additional s for a name of two or more syllables that ends in an eez sound.
Euripides' tragedies          the Ganges' source          Xerxes' armies

Quote
7.21 Words and names ending in unpronounced "s." To avoid an awkward appearance, an apostrophe without an s may be used for the possessive of singular words and names ending in an unpronounced s. Opt for this practice only if you are comfortable with it and are certain that the s is indeed unpronouned.
Descartes' three dreams
the marquis' mother
François' efforts to learn English
Vaucouleurs' asistance to Joan of Arc
Albert Camus' novels (the s is unpronounced)
but
Raoul Camus's anthology (the s is pronounced)

Quote
7.22 Other exceptions. For ... sake expressions traditionally omit the s when the noun ends in an s or an s sound.
for righteousness' sake
for goodness' sake
for Jesus' sake
but
Jesus's contemporaries

Where neither an s nor an apostrophe alone looks right (as with such names as Isis), avoid the possessive and use of instead.

And if this whole thing wasn't sufficiently confusing (Fowler's is tame by comparison), the last exception is a winner:
Quote
7.23 An alternative practice. Those uncomfortable with the rules, exceptions, and options outlined above may prefer the system, formerly more common, of simply omitting the possessive s on all words ending in s--hence "Dylan Thomas' poetry," "Maria Callas' singing," and "that business' main concern." Though easy to apply, that usage disregards pronunciation and thus seems unnatural to many.


My apologies for any typos.

Methinks this can be summed up with 'do whatever you feel like doing' -- because you can find some 'authority' to support you.
Logged
pat
Eulexic
***
Posts: 2798


Rugby, England.


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 03:33:30 AM »

Goodness me, TRex, you've certainly been doing some research on that one.

I must say that after it was initially raised I had a bit of a scout around myself and more or less came to the same conclusion that you did!
Logged
ellen fremedon
Logologist
**
Posts: 99


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 07:26:52 AM »

The bottom line is that it is never incorrect to write Jones's!

Additionally, I tell my students to do whatever the boss of the relevant writing project tells them to do. . .for whatever that's worth Undecided
Logged
TRex
Glossologian
**
Posts: 1502


~50 miles from Chicago, in the Corn (maize) Belt


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 11:51:08 PM »

I still think Bess's or Tess's or Joss's looks ugly.

But doing what the boss wants is never bad advice — even if wrong!
Logged
pat
Eulexic
***
Posts: 2798


Rugby, England.


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2009, 12:07:46 AM »

That's interesting, TRex. I always think that Bess' looks odd, probably because you wouldn't actually say 'Bess'.

Or maybe you were talking about the looks of Bess, Tess or Joss being ugly.  Cheesy

Logged
birdy
Eulexic
***
Posts: 3173


Brooklyn, NY


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2009, 09:18:17 AM »

Please let's have a little political correctness here, Pat.  Rather than "ugly," let's describe Bess, Tess, and Joss as being "pulchritudinally challenged."   Cheesy
« Last Edit: July 04, 2009, 11:30:04 AM by birdy » Logged
pat
Eulexic
***
Posts: 2798


Rugby, England.


View Profile
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2009, 05:49:13 PM »

Yay, birdy. I'll change it on my CV! It's this orange hair you know.
Logged
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.051 seconds with 19 queries.