Possessive - s' or s's with proper nouns - Chris' or Chris's dog?

OmniLingual

New Member
American English- CA, USA
I realize that this topic has been positively exhausted, but I still want to share my two cents.

I was taught at my American school that the 's was required after names ending with s, except for "ancient" or "Biblical" names like Jesus, Moses, Xerxes. Now, I realize that this is obviously a debatable issue (otherwise we wouldn't be on post #52 now) but I like that rule and therefore stick to it. It makes sense; just because the name ends with an s doesn't mean it has to be shafted and robbed the s it rightfully deserves in the possessive. Perhaps I'm particularly adamant about this issue because my own name is Elias, and I can't stand it when people write Elias'. It looks as though I'm being treated like an ancient historical figure or something. (Incidentally, I wonder what other people whose names actually end in s think. Should I start a poll? Hmmm...how far do we want to take this?!)

As for the apostrophe-with-years bit, I was also taught that the plurals of numbers and letters required an apostrophe. (For example, mind your p's and q's.). While these are of course not possessives, that is not the only case that governs apostrophe usage. Apostrophes serve many other functions, the most significant of which is that of our trademark contactions (which I don't know what I'd do if we didn't have!). Furthermore, I really don't think numbers and letters should be jumbled up together; after all, there's probably a reason that "tendency" (if we choose to settle for that term) has persisted until recently, when grammarians and linguists couldn't leave good enough alone and began to question the validity of a most conventional apostrophe usage.

In closing, I support rules over feeling - but that's just me. There are many times I find myself writing something correctly even if it doesn't "look" right. Usually I settle for rewording.

That's all from Elias's camp.

PS - The grocer's apostrophe is simply inexcusable!
I realize that this topic has been positively exhausted, but I still want to share my two cents.

I was taught at my American school that the 's was required after names ending with s, except for "ancient" or "Biblical" names like Jesus, Moses, Xerxes. Now, I realize that this is obviously a debatable issue (otherwise we wouldn't be on post #52 now) but I like that rule and therefore stick to it. It makes sense; just because the name ends with an s doesn't mean it has to be shafted and robbed the s it rightfully deserves in the possessive. Perhaps I'm particularly adamant about this issue because my own name is Elias, and I can't stand it when people write Elias'. It looks as though I'm being treated like an ancient historical figure or something. (Incidentally, I wonder what other people whose names actually end in s think. Should I start a poll? Hmmm...how far do we want to take this?!)

As for the apostrophe-with-years bit, I was also taught that the plurals of numbers and letters required an apostrophe. (For example, mind your p's and q's.). While these are of course not possessives, that is not the only case that governs apostrophe usage. Apostrophes serve many other functions, the most significant of which is that of our trademark contactions (which I don't know what I'd do if we didn't have!). Furthermore, I really don't think numbers and letters should be jumbled up together; after all, there's probably a reason that "tendency" (if we choose to settle for that term) has persisted until recently, when grammarians and linguists couldn't leave good enough alone and began to question the validity of a most conventional apostrophe usage.

In closing, I support rules over feeling - but that's just me. There are many times I find myself writing something correctly even if it doesn't "look" right. Usually I settle for rewording.

That's all from Elias's camp.

PS - The grocer's apostrophe is simply inexcusable!

Hello, Elias & Gang:
This is my first time out, venturing into the WR forum. I like languages, and freely confess I am an Anglophile; even though my last surname is Irish, deriving from County Mayo, Sure and Begorrah :) !!! I speak Spanish más o menos, ein bischen Deutsch, & studied 2 years of Sanskrit, plus a smattering of Japanese, and taught myself un puo di Italiano when we went to Italy in '09. I reckon this makes me sort of a polyglot. I am such a complete word nerd that I read the first 50 responses this afternoon. Today is the birthday of my stepson, Chris. So after writing: "Chris's Birthday" on our family calendar, I tried to remember what the exact spelling rules were I learned in grammar school 50-odd years ago ??? I went 50-50 on: "Chris's" versus "Chris'". So then I searched through the Internet; and ended up reading the first 50 responses in this thread, and I preferred yours the best ! The rule seemed simple and straightforward, and probably what I remembered learning as a kid. I also prefer writing about: the "1970's", not the "1970s" ??? (probably a mod British persuasion). Anyways, nice to meet you, Elias; and looking forward to chatting more with you & the the forum members :) !!!
Take care, Scott
 
  • london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I was just reading you post, Omnilingual and noticed elroy's remark about the grocer's apostrophe. I am at a loss as to why it is inexcusable, as to go to the grocer's is short for to go to the grocer's shop, so the apostrophe +s is a perfectly normal genitive. Do you agree with that as well?

    And as for the apostrophe when talking about decades. I personally prefer 1970s, as it is a simple plural, but let's not get into that, as it has laready been discussed may times and there are quite definitely two schools of thought: one for it and one against it. The same goes when I'm minding my ps and qs.;)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I was just reading you post, Omnilingual and noticed elroy's remark about the grocer's apostrophe. I am at a loss as to why it is inexcusable, as to go to the grocer's is short for to go to the grocer's shop, so the apostrophe +s is a perfectly normal genitive. Do you agree with that as well?
    (Just in case)
    The apostrophe in the word grocer's in your usage is just fine. The one he was referring to is the apostrophe used in plurals like plum's, apple's and cabbage's. That apostrophe is called the grocer's apostophe.
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Oh I see! Good heavens yes, that IS inexcusable. I had no idea they called it that, thanks.
    The one he was referring to is the apostrophe used in plurals like plum's, apple's and cabbage's. That apostrohe is called the grocer's apostophe.

    ... and in the UK it's also known (perhaps even better known) as the greengrocer's apostrophe.
    images
    ...... Other examples can be seen here.

    There's an amusing story about the "greengrocer's apostrophe that wasn't" in Lynne Truss's book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

    Ws
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    If you look at message number 13 (from the hermit thrush) in this thread and realize that Chicago is located in the US of A, you will see that it is not correct that Chris' is universally accepted usage in the US.

    Alas! I think you may be right. I had to search, come or go, and join so I could share my dismay over something I just read. The New York Times wrote - oh thank god, it's not the Times - it's the Washington Post that just wrote "got married even though Bill Gates’s opening line to his future wife was: “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?”
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Alas! I think you may be right. I had to search, come or go, and join so I could share my dismay over something I just read. The New York Times wrote - oh thank god, it's not the Times - it's the Washington Post that just wrote "got married even though Bill Gates’s opening line to his future wife was: “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?”
    Just as a matter of interest, Got to get free, and not, therefore, necessarily leading you anywhere, how do you pronounce what I understand you prefer to write as Bill Gates' wife.

    Do you say Bill Gates wife, or Bill Gates z wife?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Alas! I think you may be right. I had to search, come or go, and join so I could share my dismay over something I just read. The New York Times wrote - oh thank god, it's not the Times - it's the Washington Post that just wrote "got married even though Bill Gates’s opening line to his future wife was: “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?”

    Welcome!

    Just to be clear, your dismay is at the use of Gates's instead of Gates' ?
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    It's a funny one - if we are talking about just one person then I'd say it's just wrong - e.g. *"the dog of Chris". Adding in the mother, e.g. "the dog of Chris's mother", makes it a little bit more acceptable but as Edinburgher says rather unnatural and I'd avoid it too. I'm not sure why the second should not be as "wrong" as the first though.

    I'm with Chris' mother's dog too. When I read Chris' mother dog, I am hearing a mother dog that belongs to Chris, and the phrase would not be referring to Chris' mother at all.
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    Welcome!

    Just to be clear, your dismay is at the use of Gates's instead of Gates' ?
    Yes, you got that right, and I empathize with the first part of your tag line stating "My memory is so bad I can't even remember what I just forgot." Oh, but I did search and I did find you guys. I'm already addicted.
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    Just as a matter of interest, Got to get free, and not, therefore, necessarily leading you anywhere, how do you pronounce what I understand you prefer to write as Bill Gates' wife.

    Do you say Bill Gates wife, or Bill Gates z wife?
    I'm sounding it out ... It is not a hard z, as in zebra, it sounds like "Gates iz s" or the word "is" plus "s" and strangely - because I've never exactly explored this before - I can't really tell if the "is" plus the "s" is one syllable or two syllables. ???
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes, you got that right, and I empathize with the first part of your tag line stating "My memory is so bad I can't even remember what I just forgot." Oh, but I did search and I did find you guys. I'm already addicted.
    I'm not sure how much of the thread you have read, but I already posted this one (#143). As a follow-up to it, I wonder how you name the inidivuduals who have that last name : The Gateses, perhaps? or just The Gates. (Not asking about The Gates Family). Gate is a surname also, so we would have Alan Gate's family being called the Gates and the possessive of this plural would be The Gates' house. You can see where confusion can arise when using the "if it simply ends in -s" rule versus the "if it is a plural ending in -s" rule. But, as noted above, it's a style choice and we choose differently:)
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    OK, I live and learn! I've actually spent some time in Houston, but I didn't ever notice that. Maybe I didn't go to enough Macdos (as they're often called where I live — there, that solves the problem;)).

    So what about Macy's? (as a possessive or a plural ... I think you have more than one of them, too.)

    Ws:)
    There's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy's Herald Square and Macy's at SmallTownBigState Shopping Center differentiate between the flagship and satellite stores. There's only one Macy's Herald Square with wooden escalators that go clackity-clack where Garment District residents sometimes do their supermarket shopping. Does any other Macy's have wooden escalators?
     

    Got to get free

    New Member
    English - American
    I'm sounding it out ... It is not a hard z, as in zebra, it sounds like "Gates iz s" or the word "is" plus "s" and strangely - because I've never exactly explored this before - I can't really tell if the "is" plus the "s" is one syllable or two syllables. ???

    Just as a matter of interest, Got to get free, and not, therefore, necessarily leading you anywhere, how do you pronounce what I understand you prefer to write as Bill Gates' wife.

    Do you say Bill Gates wife, or Bill Gates z wife?
    Oops, I didn't read your question the way you meant it. My instinct is to say Bill Gates wife.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Oops, I didn't read your question the way you meant it. My instinct is to say Bill Gates wife.
    You see, I couldn't say that, and that may be why I write it differently. This has been my view on this issue for about fifty years, but I can't remember if I said as much in the dark ages of this thread.

    I'm quite happy, as usual, to accept that American usage may be different from ours.
     
    I am among those Americans whose teeth go on edge when he reads "Chris' dog", especially since everyone will say "Chrisiz".

    I will also point out that the using an apostrophe to form the possessive of a word that ends with s is hardly something "new" in the US, as has been claimed by some here. One might note, for example, the first edition of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. (1869-1946.)

    Strunk's first rule of usage was this:

    Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's.

    Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

    Charles's friend
    Burns's poems
    the witch's malice

    This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press.

    Strunk's work appeared in 1918. I seriously doubt that anyone here was in school before 1918, when this was already the preferred usage of the United States Government Printing Office. Thus, all claims that this is a recent introduction which contradicts the universal American practice of the posters' schooldays are in error.
     

    LouisFerdinand

    New Member
    English United States
    <Merged with an earlier thread. Nat, Moderator>
    There are times when there is a proper noun and it ends with a s. Ownership is shown with the '. Should an extra s be added or not? For example: Is it James's or James'
     
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    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Possessive of Proper Names Ending in S

    "The bottom line is that stylebooks do not agree on whether to write “Jesus’ name” or “Jesus’s name,” “Travis’ friend” or “Travis’s friend.” Writers not bound by a specific style manual must make their own decision and be consistent with it."​
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This thread has 160+ posts - it's somewhat controversial:D
    <link removed>
    (My personal view is that the 's is added to all singular nouns, whether they end in s or not:))

    <Thanks JS, the threads have been merged. Nat>
     
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    LouisFerdinand

    New Member
    English United States
    In some Bibles the New Testament mentions "Jesus' Father". In other Bibles the New Testament mentions "Jesus's Father". I had wondered if there was one definite rule or not.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Nope:) Some follow my preference but break their own rule with historical figures such as Jesus, Moses, Socrates etc. but I never figured out the fame or age cut-off for that "rule":)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    My rule of thumb is to add 's for monosyllables (James's, Chris's) and to polysyllables if they are easy to pronounce. The usual justification for Jesus' and Moses' is that there are already two sibilants there and writing 's would indicate three sibilants each.
     

    msirois

    New Member
    American English
    To throw an extra wrinkle into the discussion, what about words or names that have a silent "s" at the end of the word? My last name is Sirois. It's pronounced Sir-wah. I'm American, of French descent. If we were talking about my dog, would it be "Sirois' dog" or "Sirois's dog." It would be pronounced "Sir-wahz dog."
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'd go for the latter choice: Sirois's. The second s would still be silent and the z sound of Sir-wahz would be from the s after the apostrophe. (But I'm of the persuasion that a name ending in an s is not a plural, so would not have simple apostrophe.) If the person reading that knows that the name is sir-wah, then it will not be a problem. If they don't know that, then there's a bigger problem:D
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    To throw an extra wrinkle into the discussion, what about words or names that have a silent "s" at the end of the word? My last name is Sirois. It's pronounced Sir-wah. I'm American, of French descent. If we were talking about my dog, would it be "Sirois' dog" or "Sirois's dog." It would be pronounced "Sir-wahz dog."
    I come from Arkansas, which was spelled by a French explorer with a silent final s. So it's "Arkansas's natural beauty", since Arkansas is not plural, not "Arkansas':eek: natural beauty".

    Now I live in Texas, and the s in Texas is not silent. The possessive is still formed the same way: "Texas's natural beauty".

    — On the other hand, if it is your own name, you can spell it any way you want. :D

    During the civil war, several states had two governments, a U.S. one and a Confederate one, so there were in effect two Arkansas (plural, pronounced "Arkansauz"), and there may have been two Texases too (plural, pronounced "Texassiz"). The respective possessive plural forms are Arkansas' ("Arkansauz") and Texases' ("Texassiz").

    Similarly, where I live chassis is pronounced "Chassee". The other three forms of the word are all pronounced "chasseez", but they are spelled chassis (plural), chassis's (singular possessive), and chassis' (plural possessive).

    And, speaking of French words in English, fleur-de-lys is pronounced "flur de lee", and the three other forms are all pronounced "flur de leez", but they are spelled fleurs-de-lys (plural), fleur-de-lys's (singular possessive), and fleurs-de-lys' (plural possessive), in case anyone is wondering.
     

    CLaBeff

    New Member
    English
    This is a very interesting conversation. My nickname is Chris. I was looking up the use of apostrophe to show ownership, when I came across this page. I chose it because it specifically referenced my nickname! I was writing an professional email. My grammar is atrocious, since I've not actually had to practice using proper grammar since college! I was taught, in an American public school system, in eigth grade, that we use apostrophe s when we can refer to ownership of a thing. We use s apostrophe when we refer to ownership of a person. I was taught to remember that rule, this way: Chris can own a piece of cake. It's Chris's cake. Chris cannot own a person. There are laws against that. It's Chris' doctor. Both 's and s' are pronounced "Chris-es".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I was taught, in an American public school system, in eigth grade, that we use apostrophe s when we can refer to ownership of a thing. We use s apostrophe when we refer to ownership of a person. I was taught to remember that rule, this way: Chris can own a piece of cake. It's Chris's cake. Chris cannot own a person. There are laws against that. It's Chris' doctor. Both 's and s' are pronounced "Chris-es".
    I think you may have had a "unique" eighth-grade teacher. I've never heard of any rule like this. :) I'm not sure how your rule helps you remember anything since it's all pronounced the same.
     
    I was taught, in an American public school system, in eigth grade, that we use apostrophe s when we can refer to ownership of a thing. We use s apostrophe when we refer to ownership of a person. I was taught to remember that rule, this way: Chris can own a piece of cake. It's Chris's cake. Chris cannot own a person. There are laws against that. It's Chris' doctor. Both 's and s' are pronounced "Chris-es".

    Welcome to the forum, Chris.

    Because I am not as nice as Myridon (or perhaps because I am a New Yorker rather than a Texan...;)) I will be blunter:
    Your teacher was wrong, and the rule that he or she taught you was absolute rubbish, which you need to forget right now. Apostrophes do not only indicate ownership; they may also indicate another relationship of some kind. You can certainly refer to John's mother (whom John does not own), or John's school (which he also does not own), or John's death (ditto.) You can also use the apostrophe + s form for inanimate objects, or for concepts, which cannot "own" anything, as in the ship's bell, or yesterday's weather, or love's old sweet song.

    While I know some people follow another practice, I myself follow Strunk's rule that I gave in post #167 of this thread, and would always write "Chris's", just as I would write "Charles's" or "James's." In your case, since you tell us that you are going to say it as Chris-ez, with a second "s" sound, it would seem best to write it using a second "s": Chris's.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    I'd never heard this particular rule either. It sounds like the kind of complicated rule that you might come across in French, not English (« if Français is a noun, it's capitalized, but if it's adjective, it takes a lowercase f »:rolleyes:).

    One rule (or one piece of guidance, rather) I do remember reading about when I was a kid is that names of English origin ending in S take 's (Charles's son) while Latin or Greek names ending in S only take an apostrophe (Jesus' apostles). It didn't say anything about names of neither English nor Latin origin, though.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm wondering if my guideline is consistent with many of these so-called rules.

    My guideline is this: when a singular proper name ends in s, whether the s is silent or not, I only put 's when I add iz at the end of the name when I pronounce it. When I wouldn't add an iz at the end I simply add an apostrophe to the proper name, to obtain the possessive form.

    Thus I'd say Bill Gatesiz father, so I'd write Bill Gates's father.
    I'd say Arkansawiz (-saws) natural beauty, so I'd write Arkansas's natural beauty.
    I'd say The Brahms symphonies, so I'd write The Brahms' symphonies.
    I'd say Brahmsiz symphonies, so I'd write Brahms's symphonies.
    I'd say Sirois hat, so I'd write Sirois' hat.
    If I wrote Sirois's hat, that would suggest I said Siroisiz hat - which isn't completely out of the question.
    If someone wrote Arkansas' natural beauty, that would suggest to me that they would say Arkansaw natural beauty.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'd go along with most of that.

    I'd say Arkansawiz (-saws) natural beauty. Arkansas's
    - here the bold (i.e., second) s is silent:tick:
    I'd say Sirois hat, so I'd write Sirois' hat
    .:confused: How do you pronounce Sirois - with or without an s sound?

    But if the name is pronounced Sirwah the parallel is to Arkansaw, terminal s always silent.
    So if you say Sir-whaz for the possessive, then it would be written as Sirois's where the second s is still silent, no?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'd go along with most of that.

    - here the bold (i.e., second) s is silent:tick:
    .:confused: How do you pronounce Sirois - with or without an s sound?

    But if the name is pronounced Sirwah the parallel is to Arkansaw, terminal s always silent.
    So if you say Sir-whaz for the possessive, then it would be written as Sirois's where the second s is still silent, no?
    Yes, I think you're right, Julian. I think I'd put an iz on Sirois, so I ought to write Sirois's hat.

    You are right to correct me.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I'd say The Brahms symphonies, so I'd write The Brahms' symphonies. :thumbsdown:
    I'd say Brahmsiz symphonies, so I'd write Brahms's symphonies. :thumbsup:
    I fully agree with "Brahms's" in the second example, but the first example should have no apostrophe at all. In "The Brahms symphonies", like in "The Beethoven symphonies", the composer's name is in the nominative, not genitive.
    It isn't "The Beethoven's symphonies" either, after all.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I fully agree with "Brahms's" in the second example, but the first example should have no apostrophe at all. In "The Brahms symphonies", like in "The Beethoven symphonies", the composer's name is in the nominative, not genitive.
    It isn't "The Beethoven's symphonies" either, after all.
    Yes, I agree.

    There are people who say Brahms symphonies, meaning symphonies by Brahms. They should write Brahms' symphonies.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    In my view this would only be right if they said Brahmziz.
    Yes, well, that is what they should say if they intend it to be possessive (and there's a separate issue, I suppose, of whether they should intend it to be).
    I'm not prepared to say that it's incorrect to say Brahmz symphonies: I've heard many people say it.
    Of course it's not incorrect to say Brahmz symphonies, but as I've already pointed out, then it would not be a possessive. The equivalent would be Mozart symphonies, also meaning symphonies by Mozart, but using Brahms/Mozart as an attributive noun.

    To try a slightly different tack, if I'm going somewhere with my friend Chris, and he is giving me a lift in his car, then:
    I'm going in Chrisiz car. :tick: (correct because Chris's is correct)
    I'm going in Chris car. :cross: (incorrect because Chris' is incorrect)
    In practice, I might well avoid the controversy by saying "I'm going with Chris." :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Of course it's not incorrect to say Brahmz symphonies, but as I've already pointed out, then it would not be a possessive. The equivalent would be Mozart symphonies, also meaning symphonies by Mozart, but using Brahms/Mozart as an attributive noun
    My point is that it is possessive; for the speaker it's the equivalent of Mozart's symphonies.

    This is not the proper noun being used adjectivally.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Yes, I agree.
    There are people who say Brahms symphonies, meaning symphonies by Brahms. They should write Brahms' symphonies.
    This is in line with The Associated Press Stylebook, the defacto style guide for American newspapers and journalism schools.
    No, they should write Brahms's symphonies (pronounced "Brahmziz"), just as they would write Mozart's symphonies, or Schubert's symphonies.
    This is not.

    As always, one just has to choose a style guide and stick with it.
     
    This is not.

    As always, one just has to choose a style guide and stick with it.

    I will take Strunk (whom I mentioned above, some years ago), who advises making the possessive of names that end in "s" with an apostrophe + s. By the way, would the AP Stylebook criticize those who are appointed Ambassadors to the Court of St. James's -- which is nominally housed in St. James's Palace, near St. James's Park?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I will take Strunk (whom I mentioned above, some years ago), who advises making the possessive of names that end in "s" with an apostrophe + s. By the way, would the AP Stylebook criticize those who are appointed Ambassadors to the Court of St. James's -- which is nominally housed in St. James's Palace, near St. James's Park?
    The AP Stylebook doesn't criticize anything, but provides a guide for American reporters and editors. There are always exceptions, and indeed, the Stylebook says: "(An exception is St. James's Palace)".:)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I found the following statement about the AP Stylebook in Wikipedia:
    Its simplified grammar, such as dropping the Oxford comma and using figures for all numbers above nine, saves scarce print and web space.
    In other words, if we can believe Wikipedia, the AP have decided to "simplify" in order to save space.

    It is odd that they would want to save one character (the s) while at the same time cramming a webpage with overly complicated xml and imbedded sreaming videos.

    I'll stick with the logical spelling based on the way my parents and teachers pronounced possessives (as I always have).
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I found the following statement about the AP Stylebook in Wikipedia:In other words, if we can believe Wikipedia, the AP have decided to "simplify" in order to save space.

    It is odd that they would want to save one character (the s) while at the same time cramming a webpage with overly complicated xml and imbedded sreaming videos.

    I'll stick with the logical spelling based on the way my parents and teachers pronounced possessives (as I always have).
    AP practice is based not only upon space in the printed pages of newspapers, but the limited transmission speeds common in the not-too-distant past, which was 50 or 56.8 bits (not kilobits or megabits) per second until it started to change slowly in the '70s.

    Even if you don't like the style, it is used by an industry that still buys ink by the tank car load.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This is in line with The Associated Press Stylebook, the defacto style guide for American newspapers and journalism schools.

    This is not.

    As always, one just has to choose a style guide and stick with it.
    Just to be clear, SDG:

    I'm saying that I'd think both Brahms' symphonies and Brahms's symphonies correct on paper, and indicative of how the writer wished the phrase to be pronounced.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Just to be clear, SDG:

    I'm saying that I'd think both Brahms' symphonies and Brahms's symphonies correct on paper, and indicative of how the writer wished the phrase to be pronounced.
    For me, saying "all of Brahms' symphonies" sounds wrong, as if the speaker thought the name was "Brahm" (like "all of Brahm's symphonies"). And what's to stop a speaker who says "all of Brahms' symphonies" from also saying "the Brahms'" instead of "the Brahmses" and "the Brahmses'"?

    I have heard and seen the Williams' where the Williamses was meant, and I find it confusing, and wrong. I prefer to distinguish a Williams from a William and something belonging to a Williams or a Peters from something belonging to a William or a Peter.

    I can see how it can protect journalists from libel if they simply say up front that they will not make the distinction. But what about accuracy, which professional journalists are (or used to be) so proud of?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I have heard and seen the Williams' where the Williamses was meant, and I find it confusing, and wrong. I prefer to distinguish a Williams from a William and something belonging to a Williams or a Peters from something belonging to a William or a Peter.
    I agree :D
    I occasionally see Jone’s but I must admit I’ve never seen Brahm’s :eek:
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    For me, saying "all of Brahms' symphonies" sounds wrong, as if the speaker thought the name was "Brahm" (like "all of Brahm's symphonies").
    I'm prepared to be generous and think he just didn't like the sound of Brahmziz symphonies.
    And what's to stop a speaker who says "all of Brahms' symphonies" from also saying "the Brahms'" instead of "the Brahmses" and "the Brahmses'"?
    This is to assume he is uneducated, a leap I'm not prepared to make. The people I know who say this don't think plurals are normally formed by adding apostrophes.

    I've never heard anyone say anything like I'm going to spend the evening with the Brahms (ie. the Brahms family), as you suggest.

    There is no problem with the Brahmses' house, because there one is obliged to say Brahmziz, and we are dealing with a plural ending in s, so the apostrophe follows the s.
     

    dalanw

    New Member
    English - US
    Please forgive my seemingly matter-of-fact attitude, but when I was a U.S. Navy brat in the '70s I was expressly required to observe, in public schools anywhere from East Tennessee to Southern California to Guam, that there was no negotiation necessary nor tolerated in this matter. I was taught that the tertiary institutions of Great Britain (England) ultimately determined the correct way to speak and write in English and all of our textbooks were clear and uniform upon the handling of contractions and non-pronoun possessives. My understanding was that the apostrophe, when not being used to denote possession, represented missing characters of words either in contractions or truncations--i.e., "it's" (it is), "'70s" (1970s), or "the Wrights'" (belonging to the Wright family) in plural and "Jesus's" (belonging to Jesus) in singular possessive. I always assumed that any other convention was the result of mistake or ignorance.

    "There ain't no such thang as accidents... It's premeditated carelessness." -- Brother Dave Gardner
     
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    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I always assumed that any other convention was the result of mistake or ignorance.
    Welcome to the forum.
    I've never, ever found '"the Wrights'" (belonging to the Wright family) ' to be correct. My friends, the Wrights, live in Oregon. The Wrights' address (possessive) is the common style.
    As a side note, one can find many preconceived ideas questioned in this forum of friendly folks. :)
     
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