View Full Version : Docklands's punctuation question
11-25-2002, 11:00 AM
Can anyone tell me the correct usage of ' and 's to indicate possesion? I'm sure I was told at school that a word ending in s required only an apostrophe and no additional s (i.e. James' football).
Yesterday, I went for a walk in St. James's Park, and seeing the park sign made me doubt myself.
I've since been told that James' is an americanism (Somehow seems like that should have a z.) and that you would never see it any other way than James's in the Times.
Any enlightenment would be much appreciated.
11-25-2002, 11:34 AM
Hope this helps, Dockland :)
Apostrophes: I don't have time to get into the whole world of apostrophes.The important thing to remember is this: Apostrophes NEVER make a word plural, they usually make it possessive (i.e., "Fred's" = belonging to Fred; "Freds" = a roomful of dudes named Fred). All you need to do to make something plural (generally) is add an "s" to the end. I wouldn't mention this at all, but I have seen approximately 4.7 billion signs that add unnecessary apostrophes to advertise "apple's," or "auto's" or "egg's," and it always makes me want to kill someone.
(nicked from this website): The Stranger (http://http://www.thestranger.com/2002-09-26/ex9.html)
I thought I'd just put what someone else had written, because as soon as I had to think about it, I too began to doubt myself. :D
11-25-2002, 11:46 AM
More information (http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk).
11-25-2002, 11:47 AM
The usage is not an Americanism; it's wrong everywhere.
Singular possessives are formed by adding 's -- always. No exceptions: no "unless it's hard to say"; no "except for Biblical names ending in 'S'"; none. The more lenient use these exceptions, but there's no justification for them.
Plural possessives are formed in one of two ways: plurals ending in 'S' just have an apostrophe tacked on ("passengers' belongings should be searched with a maximum of embarassment"); plurals not ending in 'S' have 's added ("children's belongings should be searched with very thick gloves on").
As the Goblin points out, plurals are NEVER made with apostrophes, except when just adding an S creates another word: a's, i's, ha's, and the like are less confusing than as, is, and has.
11-25-2002, 12:08 PM
11-25-2002, 12:13 PM
Nametag, I agree that there's no justification for them, but my edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage says that a trailing apostrophe is acceptable if the final syllable begins and ends with an S. Thus Jesus' is in fact correct according to Fowler, but not James'.
11-25-2002, 12:29 PM
Don't know if anyone's interested, but there's a society dedicated to eliminating incorrect usage of the apostrophe. Here's a link for The Aposrophe Protection Society (http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/)
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