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The Use of " 's "

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M.hallahan
129331.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:57 pm Reply with quote

Good Evening,

First of all, I apologize if this has already been covered but I'm new here and I couldn't immediately spot it. Secondly, if I am wrong (which I surely am), I'm sorry for my general ignorance!

My question is this; if a name ends in s (such as Jesus) and one wishes to express their ownership of something is it correct to say "Jesus' birthday" or "Jesus's birthday". I previously thought that "Jesus' birthday" was correct. However, on the Christmas special of QI this year I noticed "Jesus's Birthday" on the large screens. I quickly asked a few friends (and with the spellchecker on Microsoft Word), who agreed with me. But perhaps, we're all mistaken

I'd appreciate somebody to shed some light on this.

Thank you

M Hallahan

 
CaptTimmy
129337.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:09 pm Reply with quote

I was always taught that even names ending with an s get an apostraphe after the s of the persons name, and my desktop of St. James's Gate Brewery seems to agree with me....

 
Ameena
129341.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:05 pm Reply with quote

I would put "'s" on the end of a word for the possessive whether it ends in "S" or not.

 
suze
129343.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:19 pm Reply with quote

In general I'm with CaptTimmy and Ameena here - in the singular, we should use 's even when the word already ends with an s.

Jesus seems to be a bit of an exception though - Jesus' is rather more common than Jesus's. When I have a bit more time I'll look it up in a usage guide, but I expect to find that Jesus' has been used for so long that even the sniffiest usage guides allow it.

FWIW, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possessive_of_Jesus agrees but does not cite a source - I'll see if I can add a better source tomorrow.

 
96aelw
129346.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:27 pm Reply with quote

The Oxford Guide to Style prefers to add 's to names already ending with s unless they are classical names, in which case it would advocate the apostrophe alone. Thus St. James's Gate Brewery, but Achilles' armour. Why it should make such a distinction, I do not know. Jesus' it describes as an "accepted archaism", while Jesus's is " acceptable in non-liturgical use". Fowler reckons that apostrophe alone is a more old fashioned way of doing things, and advocates always adding 's to monosyllabic names, and preferably to longer ones.

 
suze
129351.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:31 pm Reply with quote

Thanks Alfred - the Oxford work is the place I would have looked were it not that a trip downstairs would have been required!

 
cabs
129355.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:34 pm Reply with quote

Is the stairlift not working?

 
mckeonj
129404.  Thu Dec 28, 2006 4:11 am Reply with quote

Many years ago I attended a small country church in Hampshire. Every Sunday without fail two little old ladies came to church, driven in their Daimler by their manservant. They were sisters, and were known as The Misses Smith. Their driver was, of course, The Misses Smith's chauffeur.

 
BondiTram
129406.  Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:04 am Reply with quote

So the driver was the Misses' chauffeur then.

I have always understood it to be optional, apostrophe or apostrophe s, but one thing is certain, the apostrophe is always required.
Usually I leave off the final s.

 
steveomac
129411.  Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:29 am Reply with quote

I'm more worried about the use of the z in 'apologise', M.Hallahan.

Anyhoo, I was taught that a lone apostrophe and the 's on the end of words that end with an 's' are interchangeable.

 
M.hallahan
129412.  Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:32 am Reply with quote

Thank you all for your kind and informative replies. I hope I soon have the opportunity to the return the favour and impart some knowledge.

Thanks again,

 
BondiTram
129853.  Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:06 pm Reply with quote

I was watching Never Mind The Full Stops last night and, although they removed the phrase too quickly, I am sure that Julian Fellowes marked as wrong men's on the grounds that as it was plural the apostrophe should be on the end. I begged, most strenuously, to differ. 'Men' is already plural so the final 's' is purely possessive and thus requires an apostrophe before it.

BTW 'apologize' is spelt that way in my Concise Oxford and is the way I have always spelt it. However it does offer 'apologise' as a permissable option.

Now, should it be 'spelt' or 'spelled'?

pitter patter pitter patter............
Spelt. But that may be optional as well??

 
suze
129869.  Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:00 pm Reply with quote

You're quite right about men's of course - words where the plural doesn't end in -s are rare in English, but in such cases the possessive requires 's at the end of the plural.

As for -ise and -ize, in most cases both forms are permissible. Modern British usage tends to favour -ise although the OED (and Oxford University in general) and the Encyclopędia Britannica have always preferred -ize, which they consider more faithful to the original Greek. The Times used to opt for -ize as well, although they have changed in recent times.

Standard North American usage is -ize, ever since Noah Webster decided so when he created his dictionary - and the tendency towards -ise in Britain seems to be as much as anything a reaction against the American form. Before the 19th century, the forms were regarded as more or less interchangeable.

There are very few words where only one form is allowed - analyze is strictly North American and is considered "wrong" in Britain, while only -ize should really be used in Americanize.

As for spelt, well that seems to be the more common form in Britain. North Americans (including myself) are more likely to use spelled (and pronounce the word thus, as well). Once again, neither form is "wrong".

 
WordLover
129983.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 5:56 am Reply with quote

96aelw wrote:
The Oxford Guide to Style prefers to add 's to names already ending with s unless they are classical names, in which case it would advocate the apostrophe alone. Thus St. James's Gate Brewery, but Achilles' armour. Why it should make such a distinction, I do not know. Jesus' it describes as an "accepted archaism", while Jesus's is " acceptable in non-liturgical use". Fowler reckons that apostrophe alone is a more old fashioned way of doing things, and advocates always adding 's to monosyllabic names, and preferably to longer ones.
Here's another example:


This still leaves the matter of how such terms should be pronounced. I gather that, despite the archaic use of bare apostrophe in that hospital's name, people nonetheless call it "St. Thomas's".

I'd say, whatever you do with classical names, don't use that bare apostrophe with other singulars. It just looks wrong to me to read of something being Chris' or Mavis', for example.

 
mrpip
130022.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 9:35 am Reply with quote

The correct form is "'s", for example "James's" or "Jesus's".

 

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