1. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Apostrophe when describing Family Surname?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tyler Danann, Apr 30, 2014.

    Although I'm usually good with knowing the ways of Apostrophes I am a bit stuck on this passage:

    His family fortune suffered great trials, yet his family rival the Dawson's rode clear of the wreckage.

    Should Dawson's have one or not???

    TY
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    No, it does not need an apostrophe, because it means a group of people. It's a little bit like saying "cows" or "cow's", and obviously the former is correct when describing a group of them.
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There's no possession or contraction in Dawsons, just plural, so no apostrophe. If it was the Dawsons' fortune, and you meant more than one Dawson, the apostrophe would go after the s. If it were one Dawson and the surname didn't end in an s, it would go before the s.

    I frequently find myself unconsciously adding the apostrophe when it should just be plural and I have to correct the typo in editing. Perhaps you've seen other instances of similar typos?
     
  4. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Interesting, I thought the only time you used the plural apostrophe was when there was a plural word following it like:

    The soldiers' rifles

    or

    The twelve dragons' fury
    etc.

    ???

    I think I need to check my proof again!
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Mr Jones' kids were out of control.
    Ms Smith's kids were well behaved.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the example given, the 'fortune' belongs to the the 'Dawsons
    the word following the possessive doesn't always have to be a plural... in the example shown above, the 'fortune' [a collective noun] is owned by the 'Dawsons' [as a group], thus is correct as shown...

    in your own examples the second one is singular [fury], though referring to more than one dragon... so you've disproved your own 'only time' assumption...
     
  7. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Was my 'only time' assumption correct then?
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No. Singular words that end in an s take the apostrophe after the s not before it.

    But just when it seemed so simple my brain said 'Joneses' and it sounded correct.

    http://grammaticarum.blogspot.com/2011/04/whats-plural-of-jones.html

    o_O
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it wasn't... see an example of a singular noun following a plural possessive:

    the soldiers' mission was to penetrate enemy lines
     
  10. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Are both of them correct!?
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!
     
  12. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    It's just Mr Jones' kids should have the ' before the s as the Mr Jones part is not plural unless it was written as the Jones' children say.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, the apostrophe has to come after the 's' in either sentence, because 's' is part of the name...

    if you did what you say, you'd be changing his name to 'Mr. Jone'... this is about possession, not plurality...
     
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