Ashton Kutcher and Punctuation

Am I wrong in thinking that the title of the new Ashton Kutcher vehicle, My Boss’s Daughter, should be less an “s”?


The only acceptable time to omit the possessive ‘s’ is when doing the possessive of a plural, e.g.: “My bosses’ daughters.”

Just to clarify:

The title is correct, because there is an additional syllable added in the possessive form. That extra syllable is what decides whether or not to add the s or not.


the class’s and the witness’s
the classes’ and the witnesses’

(sorry, my examples are all singularplural pairs, but the rule is if the word ends in a pronounced “s” - and I can’t think of one that is singular right now…)

The Chicago Manual of Style adds:

That’s not the way I heard it. I was taught that the possessive for singular words ending in s could be written either way – both “my boss’ daughter” and “my boss’s daughter” are acceptable.

SolGrundy, can you quote an authoratative source?

From Webster.

Your guess is as good as mine as to who these writers are and why their insistence makes any difference, but both do seem to be acceptable at least in regards to words that end in a double s.

SolGrundy, you do know that the term “Webster” is in the public domain now, and anybody can publish under that name? It does not necessarily indicate any authority on matters of language or usage.

Actually, I posted the link, not SolGrundy, but I’m aware that the Webster name doesn’t equal authoratative.

The link was given to me by my English professor to refer to when writing papers, the site is maintained by “Professor of English Charles Darling for English courses at Capital Community College,” and the source cited is the “New York Public Library’s Guide to Style and Usage.”

Authoritative enough for me, but I suppose it’s up for debate.

I seem to recall that if Russ has a dog, it is Russ’s dog.

But if there is a plural case, e.g. if two dogs have a house, it is the dogs’ house.

I’m Canadian though, and I’m the first to admit that Language Arts classes were a looooooooooooooooooooong time ago.

Dogs can own real estate?

Sure. J. Lo owns a house.
Back to the OP:
I taught ESL for 14 years. The reference from Webster is correct. You can use both boss’ or boss’s. Both are correct.


Neither is incorrect, but that’s not the same as saying they’re equally correct. " ss’s " is correct; " ss’ " is acceptable if someone’s gonna get their undies in a bunch over it. Any editor worth his or her salt will correct the latter in favor of the former.

Rule #1 of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style: Form the possesive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write:

Charles’s friend
Burns’s poems
The witch’s malice

[followed by the usual exceptions for Moses and Jesus.]

…This is one of the few things from high school that I remember!

Huh. I saw this commercial tonight and thought it was wrong too. I’ve was taught that "-s’ " is used when words end in “s” and have always followed that rule.

In addition to Jesus and Moses, Achilles also simply gets the apostrophe appended to his name, at least in the constructions Achilles’ heel and Achilles’ tendon.