the" ---s's" issue

I’ve always wondered about this, but I have been given a different answer every time I asked some English teacher. When you have a plural word–or a singular word that ends in “s”, and you want to make it possesive, do you add an apostrophe and another s, or do you just and an apostrophe. Is there a different rule for the “singular word ending in s” and the “plural word ending in s” or are they the same. sorry for the messiness. I’ve gotta get off here quick and am in a hurry. :slight_smile:

tipi :slight_smile:

I was always taught Jones’ is wrong and Jones’s is correct. I have been taught a lot of things that I later found out were wrong.

last I heard, either is acceptable. I think Charles’s is so much better, though. Why make an exception? I think it’s a holdover from older English, where you see things like “finish’d”
Time to move on and use Charles’s, in my opinion.

I don’t know who first said “everyone’s a critic,” but I think it’s a really stupid saying.

I’ve learned and accepted that for plural words you always use the “s’” method. Such as “the chicks’ with no bras” meaning multiple women lacking breast support. For singular words ending in “s” you use the “s’s”. Example: “the penis’s appearance drew several frightened looks”

That first example is wrong, sorry. A better one is “the chicks’ bras were strewn across the floor of my bedroom” meaning that the entire Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader squads’ breast support was scattered about my bedroom’s floor.

It is the very first thing addressed in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, under “Elementary Rules of Usage,” page 1:

Don’t confuse possessive with contraction, as in using it’s and its interchangeably. The first is a contraction of it is; the second is possessive.

your humble TubaDiva
It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

For a plural in ‘s’, only the apostrophe is added after the ‘s’ to form the possessive.

As far as I know, for a non-plural, the possessive of any word or name ending in ‘s’, ‘se’, ‘z’, ‘ze’, ‘x’, ‘xe’ or ‘ce’ (or any other spelling pronounced as an ‘s’-type of sibilant) can be formed by either just a following apostrophe or same with an ‘s’ thereafter. (I’m sure there are some who say you must make this formation the one way and some the other.) Probably words ending in ‘x’ or ‘xe’ most often take both the apostrophe and the following ‘s’.


Finish’d is correct. the ’ sign also indicatd letter(s) left out. thus Int’l, Diff’rent and so forth

Omni, dang right that you’re incorrect. << Such as “the chicks’ with no bras” meaning multiple women lacking breast >>

In that sentence, the word chicks is plural, there’s no possessive and hence no apostrophe. Correct is: “the chicks with no bras”

Apostrophes are used to denote possessive, never to denote simple plurals.

What about singular nouns that end in “ss”? E.g., “I was dating Monica Geller, Ross’s sister.”

Does the triple “S” make this an exception that should be considered?

No, no, words like “finish’d” and “banish’d” were not written that way to save time/energy by leaving out letters. It’s totally different from modern abbreviations like “int’l” and “gov’t” because it’s not a contraction; it’s used to denote a different pronounciation. If it was written finished or banished, people would often pronounce it as they would “banishèd,” which would be "banish-ed or “bani-shed.” I don’t know why or when we decided to pronounce it as “banisht,” but we did, and that’s what caused nulled the need for the apostrophe. I linked that example with the s’s issue because I think pronouncing “Ross’s” as just “Ross” (That’s Ross[‘s] bike) is dated. So there’s no use for writing Ross’ if everyone says “Ross’s” (Rawsiz)

Strunk and White rule!! I’m also quite fond of the “AP Styleguide”.

Here’s a great word which I’ve fought numerous battles over its proper spelling – fo’c’s’le.

It’s the only word – that I know of – with three apostophe’s in the dictionary.

Oh, it’s the shortened version of forecastle.

Ah, shit. “Apostrophes” not “apostrophe’s”.

CKDextHavn, I know I was totally wrong and therefore corrected myself, is it really necessary for you to kick a man when he’s down?

How about the plural form of acronyms? I occasionally do some technical writing and I’m frequently faced with the plural of “XYZ”, or similar. Do I say that “multiple XYZs” are installed or “multiple XYZ’s”? The former conforms more closely to the usual method of forming plurals in English (which technical writing sometimes resembles) but I think the latter is actually clearer, since the extra “s” on the end of an acronym could be mistaken for another acronym. Anyone with strong opinions (and/or rationale) one way or the other?

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”

Not a kick, Omni, just pointing out the error, because your retraction didn’t make it clear what your goof was. And the use of 's to make plurals is one of my pet peeves.
Or should I say, one of my pet peeve’s.

Now, the possessive plural of the word “process” is “processes’”, and the contraction of “processes’ is” would be “processes’'s”, correct? (Eg. Aristotle’s actual mathematical calculation’s renown is not as great as his proecesses’'s.") It’s examples like these that make the rules governing apostrophes easy, in my opinion.

Although either s’ or s’s is acceptable, I personally use only s’ - regardless of whether the word in question was originally a singular or plural. I think adding the additional s after the possessive apostrophe is clunky and awkward. Thus, you have:

Jesus’ disciples
The business’ new partner
The kiss’ sweet smacking sound
The Jones’ red car
The girls’ new Barbie

Often, though, upon finding myself in a situation requiring an s’, I recast the sentence to avoid the problem altogether. The sentence usually comes out more pleasing - and this is especially true when writing for the ear (as in a speech), rather than for the eye. Thus, you end up with:

The disciples of Jesus
The new partner at the business
The sweet smacking sound of the kiss (although the first way is kind of poetic, in an alliterative sort of way).

But, I would still write:

The Jones’ red car
The girls’ new Barbie

There’s just no better way to write these. Working around the s’ becomes awkward and forced, as in, “The new Barbie that the girls received,” or “the red car that the Jones own.”

In words that don’t end in s, but still have a slightly sibilant sound to them, I use the 's method, as in:

Franz’s beautiful beau
Pez’s new candy dispenser
My ex’s new boyfriend

To respond to Pluto, I always add an s - without the apostrophe - to my acronyms . The rules regarding apostrophes are clear, and there’s absolutely no reason to use one when talking about multiples XYZs. The only time apostrophes should be used with an acronym is in a possessive sense, as in “NASA’s failed mission.” The lower case s following a string of upper case letters should suffice to let the reader know the s in not a part of the acronym.

(And as a personal rant, the same thing goes for the 1940s, or the '80s. There’s no frigging need for an apostrophe between the last digit and the s. None whatsoever!)

And finally, a style guide I recently read (sorry, don’t remember which, but I think it was Microsoft’s guide to tech writing) drew the distinction between acronyms and initialisms. An acronym is a word you can pronounce, such as:


Whereas an initialisms is a word in which you must say each individual letter, such as:


~ Complacency is far more dangerous than outrage ~

Thanks STARK, that clarifies things nicely for me. I will henceforth omit apostrophes. I appreciate the help with acronyms vs. initializations, too. I knew that acronyms wasn’t the exact term I wanted but I was unaware of the term initializations. If only you hadn’t referenced [shudder!] Microsoft (AKA The Great Satan)!