Possessive - of names ending with s

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by ElenaofTroy, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. ElenaofTroy

    ElenaofTroy Senior Member

    State of Mexico, Mexico
    Thank you Fergus! :)

    I only have a comment: I have actually seen forms like:

    Carlos´s books
    Andres´s car

    I was taught at school to use them this way but maybe these are old forms that are not used very often anymore.

    <Mod comment:
    This thread has been created from the very many deviant posts in a thread on a different topic. Some of the posts may now seem a little eccentric, but then they always were.:)
  2. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English

    Fergus's is the original usage. Fergus' a more recent option.
    I'm generally old-fashioned, so I say Fergus's.

    Some people even write "Marx' Das Kapital", because it sounds like 's' on the end. I don't.

    To work out whether it is 's or s', recast the sentence.

    The paws of the dog = The dog's paws.
    The paws of the dogs = The dogs' paws. The word is already dogs, add '.

    The messages of each other = Each other's messages.
    The messages of each others:cross: :cross: impossible.
  3. jess391847 New Member

    North Jersey, USA
    United States; English
    You are right on that. I'm sorry, I'm just used to using s' for names that end in s. It looks so weird on my name, as it would come up as Jess's, which is just one s too many.
  4. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I have a son Ross.
    I say and write Ross's.
    "Bill is Ross' friend" rather than "Bill is Ross's friend" would sound weird to me!
  5. Aud Duck Senior Member

    Illinois, USA
    English--United States
    It really depends on who you ask. I've had an English teacher tell me to write "Ross's," changed my grammar accordingly, and had my next English teacher tell me it should be "Ross'." What most teachers and professors have told me (and I've asked a lot of people) is that "Ross's" is a safer bet, but "Ross'" is not technically wrong. The exception is with old names. Never say "Jesus's" of "Moses's," for example. It's always "Jesus'" and "Moses'."

    Hope that helps. Of course all it really says is that there's no standard. If the Ph.D.s can't agree, it probably doesn't matter much which you use.
  6. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    The Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) writes Jesus's, Moses's,
    and so do any number of Protestant, Evangelical and Mormon publications.
  7. Aud Duck Senior Member

    Illinois, USA
    English--United States
    Well, there goes the only concrete rule I knew of.
  8. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Not so fast, Aud Duck.

    From Practical English Usage, Third Edition by Michael Swan (Oxford University Press, 2005)

    To paraphrase: General common usage = 's for Mr. Lewis's, Ross's, etc.

    Apostrophe only (generally - but not hard and fast rule) for "singular noun ending in -s, especially in literary and classical references."

    Socrates' ideas
    Dickens' novels

    This particular book happens to emphasize British English. It seems to me, however, that Americans are more comfortable with the -s' for singular nouns than are British English speakers - in general.

    I personally very RARELY use s's simply because I think it is superfluous and I know I will be understood by s', which I believe to be more standard in AE.
  9. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    So the book of Alice is Alice's book,
    but the book of Gladys will be Gladys' book?

    What happens if Alice spells her name Alys, and Gladys spells hers Gladice?
  10. emme Member

    English USA
    Ross' and Ross's are exactly the same in meaning and both perfectly correct.
    The same goes for Gladys' and Gladys's, or the Joneses' and the Joneses's (meaning belonging to the Joneses).

    It's one of the rare cases in English grammar where the writer can choose between two correct punctuations that mean the same thing.

    Alys can become Alys' or Alys's, but Gladice must become Gladice's because the original word didn't end in "s."
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you choose to research this topic, you will find that different style guides require different standards.
    There are two important points.
    (1) If you are writing for some business or academic body, be sure that you follow their style guide.
    (2) If you are writing for yourself, choose a style guide and stick with it, consistently.

    The following extract is from the style guide of The Economist:
    There are other style guides that will give different advice.

    For example, the style guide for The Times:
    So if you write for The Economist you write about Delors's shoes, if you write for The Times, they are Delors' shoes.

    And the best of luck to you all:D
  12. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Rabelais and Delors rather muddy the waters, since they are French names, and the s is silent. So when we make them 'possessive' in English we add an s sound.

    In normal speech, one would say "The shoes of Delor" or "The books of Rabelay", or "Delorz shoes" and "Rabelayz books"

    So how to read "Delors's" or "Rabelais's": delorzes and rabelayzes?
    Delors' and Rabelais' make sense, as there would be only one s sound.

    So what about the French composer Saint-Saëns?
    In his name the s is pronounced, so writing Saint-Saëns's, and saying /sẽsõsəz/ makes perfect sense,
    and [bonus points] shows off that you know the correct pronunciation of his name.
  13. *Cowgirl*

    *Cowgirl* Senior Member

    USA English
    In English class we were taught that either way was acceptable, but "Fergus's" was preferable.
  14. Gelan New Member

    American English
    I know this is an old post, but I felt like replying anyway. I forget if this is a documented rule or not, however, if you try it and sound it out I think you may all agree it works.

    For singular possessive nouns ending in "s" or "ss" preceded by a vowel other than E use " 's " - Iris's irises, Gladys's diner(y a vowel in this case), or boss's desk.

    For singular possessive nouns ending in "s" preceded by a consonant use " s' " - Keats' poems. (as Keats's just sounds like a disease)

    Also, be careful with names like Jones... I'm going to James Jones' house, Joan's house, The Joneses' house(plural). The "es" makes the same hard "Z" sound as an "s" which follows a consonant, and as such doesn't need the extra "s" which makes it sound quite silly.
  15. carlosalsa Member

    Hi there. Well in my case I must say that when I studied English I was told this following rules for instance ; my real names is carlos, if I therefore want to use my name I'd be "carlos' or carlose's ". Remember I'm not a native English speaker so I'd like to know if this is alright. Thanks beforehand
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You can choose between Carlos' and Carlos's. You would not insert an 'e'. If I were you, it would be Carlos's.
  17. ColoRosa Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    Just to make things even more interesting, APA style calls for writers to always use the 's except when there is an unpronounced "s" at the end of the name. So Rabaleis' is correct, as is Saint-Saëns's.

    The MLA, on the other hand, says to use 's if it is a singular proper noun. So in MLA style, Rabaleis's would be the proper form as would Saint-Saëns's.

    I remember being very confused growing up because different English teachers followed different style guides, so I thought the English language was constantly changing the rules. It turns out we just can't agree on what the rules are.
  18. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)

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