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  1. michaeldav.2009
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    michaeldav.2009 New Member

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    possessive apostrophe

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by michaeldav.2009, Oct 3, 2009.

    Can someone answer this tricky question about the position of the apostrophe:

    My grandson's first name is Louis; it is pronouced as in French with a silent 's'

    If I wish to expess possestion as in: Louis owns a bike, where does the apostrophe go. Remember the 's' is silent so do the normal rules apply?

    Is it: Louis' bike or Louis's bike or Loui's bike?
     
  2. lovely
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    lovely Member

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    It would be Louis's. The only time you don't is when you're using the plural form of a word, and said plural form already has an s at the end or in ancient names ending with s like Jesus, Achilles, etc. This means the ees or us sounds at the end.
     
  3. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Hi, hun.

    If the names on the brith certificate is Louis, then everything that suggests possession goes after the proper noun.

    So that leaves Either Louis' or Louis's bike.

    The Possessive apostrophe ('s) is just another contracted form: it let's you know some letters have been missed out (in this case -e as in -es (the old anglo saxon generic case). As Louis is spelt louis, the possesive form goes after the whole name: louis' or louis's (remember you're missing the 'e-' out in Louis's, and the whole -es from Louis').

    Your problem is more phonetic than written, though, right? That silent -S. In that case I'd go for Louis's because it shows you do have to pronounce that addedd 's'. Although to be honest, in written form, both are telling you the same thing. Not being French either, I'm not sure on how they handle complications like this.
     
  4. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    It would be Louis's bike.

    Louis' wouldn't make sense, especially with the silent 'S'. That would be pronounced "Loui bike", (I think) which obviously doesn't sound right. It would sound more like a brand name than a bike belonging to a guy named Louis.

    Loui's bike doesn't make sense either. There is no grammatical reason to alter the spelling of a name. Ever. A name is like a bar code; if you change a digit, it's a different code. The possessive form adds to the name, but never changes the original spelling in any way. Not in English, anyway. I can't speak for every language. But if you're writing in English, you'll be using the English rules of puctuation, unless indicating a foreign name/phrase through use of italics--something you wouldn't normally (if ever) do with character names.
     
  5. michaeldav.2009
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    michaeldav.2009 New Member

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    Hi everyone - what a helful lot you are - I think I've got now: it's Louis's bike. I will pass your replies to my daughter who raised the problem - dad's are supposed to everything but this had me stuck. Thanks again.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree with the added 's' advice...

    fyi, 'dads' as a plural does not get an apostrophe! ;-)
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think the pronunciation actually does make a difference. I can't cite a final word on this, but I did find the following on the internet at http://www.junketstudies.com/rulesofw/faqs.html:

    ****

    2. When indicating possession, should an apostrophe come before or after the "s"?
    This rule varies a bit. Any possessive singular noun takes “ ’s ”, even if the noun ends in “s”. (ex. Carlos's, Louis’s) Any possessive plural nouns takes " s' " (ex. the various activists' suggestions). However, Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition adds that singular words of more than one syllable that end in “s” are sometimes given just an apostrophe (not " 's ") to avoid too many “s” sounds.
    An exception to this rule is the possessive form of "it", which takes only an "s" with no apostrophe. See below for more info.

    Here's a difficult side-issue: What about a name like "Louis"? This name may be pronounced “Loo-is” or “Loo-ie”. In the first case, I’d go with Louis’s, and in the second I’d go with Louis’. The apostrophe rule is not as unambiguous as we might like in this case, but I doubt that either approach would lead a reader into confusion.
    [emphasis added]

    ****

    I can't really verify the "authority" of this, but I'd bet there is some genuine variation of opinion on this.:)
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Is this maybe an American/British difference? Because I was always taught no matter what the word was, if it ended in s you placed the apostrophe after and didn't add an s...so I would write Louis'....but the new James Patterson book is called 'Alex Cross's Trial" and it makes me die a little on the inside everytime I see it...
     
  9. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    The OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN USAGE AND STYLE usually distinguishes pretty clearly between BrEng custom and AmEng custom. On the matter of s' vs s's, it doesn't say anything about that distinction. But here's what it does say:

    "To form a singular posessive, add -'s to most singular nouns--even those ending in -s and -x (hence witness's, Vitex's, Jones's, Nichols's). ... Although the AP Stylebook (6th ed. 1996) calls for nothing more than an apostrophe if the word already ends in -s ... most authorities who aren't journalists demand the final -s as well (i.e.., Bill Forbis's farm, not Bill Forbis' farm). See William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of style ....

    "Exceptions ... Classical names ending in -s take only an apostrophe ... words formed from a plural. Thus General Motors should make General Motors', not General Motors's ... " [emphasis added]

    Most college students use APA style for papers they write, so the s' alone is simply another stylistic choice, but I think most of today's publishers prefer s's.

    ... except maybe for Frenchmen named Louis;) Because the choice actually does have to do with pronunciation to a good extent (see the second exception above), I think the question is is a valid one.

    ADDENDUM: I went hunting for a novel that contained a French character named "Louis," and here's what I found in Wiki, regarding THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES by Anne Rice, featuring Louis de Pointe du Lac (can't get much "Frencher" than that): "The novel and movie depict an arguable difference in Louis' relationships with Lestat and Armand." [emphasis added] If you have a chance to hunt out the book, you could see how it's handled in the story itself (my bet's on Louis').
     

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