quote:Special problems arise when you create possessives for names already ending in “s”. Is it Charles’ Wain or Charles’s Wain? The latter sounds and looks better. Is it St James’s Street or St James’ Street? Custom and rhythm go for the former. Jones’s house indicates that only one person named Jones lives there; if a family does, it should be the Joneses’ house, which sounds exactly the same but looks odd on the page. Until recently, the usual form was Jesus’ and not Jesus’s but this tradition, described in Hart’s Rules as “an acceptable liturgical archaism”, was finally broken in the New English Bible of the mid-sixties.
Despite this special case, there is a tendency towards using just a terminating apostrophe in names ending in “s”. A particularly annoying example is that of a famous London teaching hospital; when I was very small and had been mildly naughty, my father, a true-bred Londoner, would jokingly offer me his two clenched fists, naming one “sudden death” and the other “St Thomas’s Hospital”. It’s been called that for generations, the final “s” improving the flow of the name, but the new NHS hospital trust recently put up a sign identifying it as St Thomas’ Hospital, ignoring the evidence for the extra “s” that is literally graven in stone above their heads.
Even more problems arise when you’re not sure about the origin of the name. One of the colleges of Cambridge University is, correctly, Queens’ College, because it was founded by two queens (the Oxford one had only one royal benefactor, so it is Queen’s College). And what of November 5? Is it Guy Fawkes’ Day or Guy Fawkes’s Day? The one certain thing is that it isn’t Guy Fawke’s Day, because his name was Fawkes, with the “s” already on. And what does one do about Lloyd’s, the famous insurance market in London? How do you make a possessive out of that? “Names are complaining that some Lloyd’s’s syndicates were badly managed”? The style guide of the Economist says firmly “try to avoid using [it] as a possessive; it poses an insoluble problem”. Amen to that.
I think Wikipedia has the most sensible approach, though:
quote:In general, a good practice is to follow whichever spoken form is judged best: Boss’s shoes, Mrs. Jones’ hat (or Mrs. Jones’s hat, if that spoken form is preferred). In many cases, both spoken and written forms will differ between people.
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited December 08, 2006).]
I picked up the custom from Strunk & White, where you always mark the possessive "s" with apostrophe-s, no matter what it might look like with another "s" at the end of the word. I can't recall any exceptions but it's been awhile since I read it...perhaps it's time to dig out my copy and take a refresher course...
Posts: 8809 | Registered: Aug 2005
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as for the initial post and the point of the thread, my personal preference is to never put an 's after an s cause however some people might say it aloud i think it looks silly
and, as for another example mentioned above, the lloyd's thing is easy to avoid as well as, as far as i know, lloyd's is just as easily spoken of as "lloyd's of london" (though that doesn't get the 's too easily, now that i think about it). of course, you could also simply call a branch of lloyd's a lloyd's branch. it doesn't have to belong to lloyds grammatically as long as the reader understands what the hell a branch is or the context otherwise establishes the relationship
I cast my vote along with Strunk and White for always adding "apostrophe s." It just makes more sense to me. That's how you say it, so why not write it like that? Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003
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I don't find this a strange thread at all. I find it very useful to discuss accepted English practices, as it has a direct affect of getting published. I don't know how many times I've read where an editor will reject something for the simplest error (or perceived error) in English grammar, so anything that clears that up is useful.
I was taught to always use an apostrophe without the additional s on words ending in s. Period. Now I'm finding through this thread that that isn't always the case. Maybe English has changed, or maybe I just can't remember my English teachings very well.
Which is right? More importantly, which is more acceptable to the editors that are out there? I really don't know, not knowing any editors personally, and not being one myself. Anybody have any stories about rejections where apostrophe usage like this was pointed out?
The reason that this thread is rather strange is because there isn't a solid rule for the possessive. You won't go wrong with omitting the extraneous "s" (that's why it's called extraneous), but there are many cases where the common pronounciation does seem to justify including an extra "s". But if you think about it, how do you pronounce "Cyrus' conquest" or "Jesus' disciples"? You pronounce both of them with a "s's", daro? The apostrophe stands in for the unwritten consonant as well as for the unvoiced vowel. It's what apostrophes do, neh?
Fair enough. It would only make sense for it to be Guy Fawkes' Day if the celebration were held to celebrate his success rather than his torture and execution. Even were that the case, it is not, in point of fact, called Guy Fawkes' Day and that's the end of it.
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