Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Possessive S

   
Author Topic: Possessive S
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I know (at least I'm pretty sure) for a plural noun ending in "s" you express a possession like so.

My friends' friends were fatter than the sun.

But what if it's a person's name.

Is it "Niles' coffee" ? Or is it "Niles's coffee" ?


Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Niles' coffee.
Posts: 4406 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kaz
Member
Member # 7968

 - posted      Profile for Kaz   Email Kaz         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's the way I was taught.

Though Elements of Style claims it should be Niles's.


Posts: 72 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cheyne
Member
Member # 7710

 - posted      Profile for Cheyne   Email Cheyne         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It should be the Jones's house.

Apostrophes are used to show the omission of letters. In middle(?) English plurals were formed by adding es to a name. Today the apostophe stands for the missing e.

You can certainly find back up for either form on the net. It seems to be a matter of taste. The fashion swings back and forth.


Posts: 340 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zero
Member
Member # 3619

 - posted      Profile for Zero           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
But what do publishers and agents prefer?
Posts: 2195 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Chicago recommendations on possessive apostrophes runs four pages with a couple dozen rules and exceptions.

Generally, how a possessive term is spoken is a guiding principle. Number in some cases has no bearing.

Marquis', singular (unpronounced S in the uninflected form); marquises', plural.
People's, uncounted plural.
Children's, uncounted plural, (childrens'es!? an inflected dialect form. Yeah, I've seen it in a transcript of spoken word).
Susan St. James', apostrophe appended to a singular name, James.
The James's, a plural possessive for Mr. and Mrs. James and, if any, their kin. However, optionally, with context definitively indicating plural possessive, The James' car broke down.
James' books, but optionally, James's collection, for number agreement
Grand Prix' cars, but razzmatazz's glitter.
A church's minister, churches' congregations.

But in titles or other situations where there's clearly no possessive context;

Publishers Weekly
The Smiths Tavern

Signmakers once upon a time routinely omitted apostrophes according to their styles. Probably as much a consequence of a pleasing appearance and economy of effort as anything. How does an inanimate object possess itself? is the debate on whether to include an apostrophe in a business' name, for example. Merriam Webster followed suit in early dictionaries' style recommendations. That style recommendation has largely gone by the wayside, though, of late.

In formal writing, whether to add a possessive S to a singular or plural word is not a clear-cut prescriptive absolute.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited July 29, 2009).]


Posts: 5161 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KayTi
Member
Member # 5137

 - posted      Profile for KayTi           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What if there are two nileses, both of whom are having coffee? is it then niles's coffee? Or is that when it would be Niles'?

Just to throw a wrench in the works.

I think you need cases to cover:
- plural or collective word that ends in s, possessive
- single name that ends in s, possessive (Niles)
- plural name (two Niles'), possessive

In addition to the ones we already know of:
- single word that does not end in s, posessive (That's the cat's.)
- single name that does not end in s, possessive (George's cat has a hat.)


Posts: 1911 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2