Possessive to a name ending in 's'

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Possessive to a name ending in 's'

Post by SarahP on Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:44 pm

This seems to change every few years in schools, and I'm not sure how it should look these days.

I was taught that if something belongs to James, it's James'.

My sister-in-law (just finished her bachelor) told me that a professor recently told her that "James's" would be correct.

Now I'm not sure. Where might I find a source that has current information on this?
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Re: Possessive to a name ending in 's'

Post by Guest on Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:53 pm

I learned the first way you presented: James'

Although, I did find...

Showing possession in English is a relatively easy matter (believe it or not). By adding an apostrophe and an s we can manage to transform most singular nouns into their possessive form:

  • the car's front seat
  • Charles's car
  • Bartkowski's book
  • a hard day's work

Some writers will say that the -s after Charles' is not necessary and that adding only the apostrophe (Charles' car) will suffice to show ossession. Consistency is the key here: if you choose not to add the -s after a noun that already ends in s, do so consistently throughout your text. William Strunk's Elements of Style recommends adding the 's. (In fact, oddly enough, it's Rule Number One in Strunk's "Elementary Rules of Usage.") You will find that some nouns, especially proper nouns, especially when there are other -s and -z sounds involved, turn into clumsy beasts when you add another s: "That's old Mrs. Chambers's estate." In that case, you're better off with "Mrs. Chambers' estate."

Possesive form quote source


Last edited by Wreybies on Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:58 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Possessive to a name ending in 's'

Post by SarahP on Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:29 am

That's excellent. Thank you.
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