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Old 08-13-2019, 08:22 AM
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Possessive form of names that end in an S.


I am one of those people whose last name end in an S. As an example, let's use the name Davis. As long as I can remember, the possessive form of Davis would be be Davis'. Now people and publications are using Davis's. Apparently, there is now an ongoing battle among grammar nazis on which is correct. Please share your thoughts.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:28 AM
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There is no battle, just knowledgeable people trying to correct ignorant people who make shit up when they don't know the right answer.
See also: irregardless and nucular are correct because they're used a lot.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 08-13-2019 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:32 AM
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There was a recent thread on this, with discussion, and links to various style guides (is it really a grammatical question?) The Strunk-White, Fowler, et al. approach of just adding 's is simple enough; the counterargument is that pronunciation may sometimes elide an 's', but my take on it is that we are discussing written language.

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Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
There is no battle, just knowledgeable people trying to correct ignorant people who make shit up when they don't know the right answer.
See also: irregardless and nucular are correct because they're used a lot.
I'm sure there are apocalyptic slap-fights of Chicago vs Associated Press and all sorts of factions...

Last edited by DPRK; 08-13-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
There is no battle, just knowledgeable people trying to correct ignorant people who make shit up when they don't know the right answer.
See also: irregardless and nucular are correct because they're used a lot.

https://patch.com/california/davis/o...vis-or-davis-s

Publications that Use Davis's

: Davis's score is eight points higher than that of Vacaville, but two points fewer than in Dixon.
New York Times: Mr. Jobs's first job was at Atari, and it involved the game Pong.
The Atlantic: ...[it] isn't something that's necessarily endorsed by Jobs's biographer.
Sports Illustrated: ...Phil Mickelson's fast start, Tiger Woods's putting and Rory McIlroy's run.


Publications that Use Davis'

Davis Enterprise: "... under Davis' proposed minor alcohol preclusion ordinance, however, officers can cite..."
Davis Vanguard: Politicos Share Their Views of the Candidate Field and Davis' Future
CNN: He got a call from one of Jobs' associates who asked him several questions.
ESPN: Woods' remarks came before PGA Tour rookie...

As you can see, we are a nation divided on this front.

Last edited by Doyle; 08-13-2019 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:36 AM
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For as long as I can recall both forms have been considered correct. Pick a style and be consistent.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:18 AM
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And why don't we throw in the plural form as well.

For "Davis" it should be "Davises" as in: "The Davises are coming over for dinner tonight" and NOT Davis'

Right?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by minlokwat View Post
And why don't we throw in the plural form as well.

For "Davis" it should be "Davises" as in: "The Davises are coming over for dinner tonight" and NOT Davis'

Right?
Sure; where have you seen an apostrophe used to form the plural of a name?
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:05 AM
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I have always used Davis's for "something belonging to someone named Davis, or to two or more people named Davis."

Davis' means "something belonging to the Davi group."
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:15 AM
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The day I don't get to use three s's in a role by typing "Vachss's" is the day I stop typing.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doyle View Post
I am one of those people whose last name end in an S. As an example, let's use the name Davis. As long as I can remember, the possessive form of Davis would be be Davis'. Now people and publications are using Davis's. Apparently, there is now an ongoing battle among grammar nazis on which is correct. Please share your thoughts.
I'm usually fairly good with grammar and I almost always have to pause when these things come up. After reading this thread, it's all mushed together and now none of it looks right I tend to agree with you about Davis' being the possessive and Davises being the plural.

Since we're on the subject, is it "mens room" or "men's room"? How about "Mothers Day"?
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:52 AM
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I follow a simple rule when forming the possessive of a word that ends in "s", based on pronunciation:

- If the extra "s" would be pronounced, put it in: "Davis's"

- If the extra "s" would not be pronounced, leave it out: "Clements'"

I learned it this way years ago, and although it can still provoke discussion, I have a clear response if anyone challenges my usage.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
Since we're on the subject, is it "mens room" or "men's room"? How about "Mothers Day"?
"Mens" is not a word, except in Latin. "Mothers" is a word, but you need an apostrophe to make it genitive; this isn't German. These are non-controversial spelling rules, as I understand it.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
"Mens" is not a word, except in Latin. "Mothers" is a word, but you need an apostrophe to make it genitive; this isn't German. These are non-controversial spelling rules, as I understand it.
Yes, now that you point it out, obviously "mens" is not a word Also, I meant to ask whether it should be "mother's" or mothers' " but I looked it up and see it is intended to honor each family's mother as opposed to mothers in general. Also, also, what does German have to do with anything?
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Sure; where have you seen an apostrophe used to form the plural of a name?
The neighbors a few doors down have a big old sign on their front door that reads The Thomas's

I suppose they want to invoke some sense of mystery by prompting one to guess "The Thomas's what?" but I do think they mean it to mean the group of people who live there and share the last name of "Thomas".
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:43 AM
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I agree with "pick a style and stick to it." I use an apostrophe after the S to denote the possessive. James' house.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
Also, also, what does German have to do with anything?
German, and several other Germanic languages, form possessives by just appending an s, no apostrophe.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
For as long as I can recall both forms have been considered correct. Pick a style and be consistent.
For as long as I can remember I would have lost marks in English class no matter how consistently I used s's. It was all part of being raised with a sense of right & wrong, a functioning moral compass, and an unfaltering love of candy corn. But that's all a bit over the top. In reality when I see s's I just think, "Not everyone has access to a quality education," roll my eyes, and move on.

But what really gets me going is people who don't know the me/I rule.
"Jim and I went to the store."
"Bubba went to the store with Jim and me."
"Bubba went to the store with Jim and I." makes me stabby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:42 PM
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I prefer the apostrophe-s version myself. I defer to the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style on this account. I was mostly taught and quizzed on AP Style in college (as I took many journalism courses and worked at the paper), and that style guide used the bare apostrophe. AP Style also taught me not to use the Oxford comma. As much as I blindly followed AP for many years, in the years since, I've found myself on the side of the Chicago Manual of Style for apostrophe-s after singular names and the Oxford comma in lists.

Last edited by pulykamell; 08-13-2019 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
For as long as I can remember I would have lost marks in English class no matter how consistently I used s's. It was all part of being raised with a sense of right & wrong, a functioning moral compass, and an unfaltering love of candy corn. But that's all a bit over the top. In reality when I see s's I just think, "Not everyone has access to a quality education," roll my eyes, and move on.

But what really gets me going is people who don't know the me/I rule.
"Jim and I went to the store."
"Bubba went to the store with Jim and me."
"Bubba went to the store with Jim and I." makes me stabby.
I'll see your " . . Jim and I" and raise you one, irritating ", "It was Bubba, Jim and myself" < Psycho stabby violin sounds>
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:00 PM
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Well I always pronounce the extra s. If Jones has a book, it is Jones-ez book, spelled Jones's. Someone (well, she taught English, so maybe she knows) claimed that if that last syllable was stressed (primary or secondary accent) you added 's and pronounced it. Otherwise, just '. Someone mentioned Clements above and that would give Clements'. And how important is it anyway?
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:54 PM
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The "I/Me" rule is very easy to get correct in written form, but I'll admit, in conversation I do catch myself sometimes saying the wrong thing.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doyle View Post
I am one of those people whose last name end in an S. As an example, let's use the name Davis. As long as I can remember, the possessive form of Davis would be be Davis'. Now people and publications are using Davis's. Apparently, there is now an ongoing battle among grammar nazis on which is correct. Please share your thoughts.
Davis’s has always been the correct possessive. It’s Davis’ that is the interloper.

Sing / sing poss / plural / plural poss
David / David’s / Davids / Davids’
Davis / Davis’s / Davises / Davises’
Jones / Jones’s / Joneses / Joneses’
Heinz / Heinz’s / Heinzes / Heinzes’
Congress / Congress’s / Congresses / Congresses’

There have been traditional exceptions for “classical” names like Jesus and Achilles, but I see no good reason for exceptions.
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*I'm experimenting with E, em, and es and emself as pronouns that do not indicate any specific gender nor exclude any specific gender.

Last edited by Acsenray; 08-13-2019 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:20 PM
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It really doesn't matter as long as you are consistent, but even then it's not that important.
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