1. Lacy

    Lacy New Member

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    James' or James's

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Lacy, Oct 3, 2020.

    Up until now, I've never really questioned my own usage of the apostrophe. At the age of about six, I was taught that James' is correct and have stuck to it ever since.

    But this morning, I received a review of my latest story... and apparently apostrophes at the end of names ending with 's' should read James's or, to use my own character's surname as an example, Myers's.

    Which version is correct? I've been looking around online and can't find much except that it depends on the writer's preference.
     
  2. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    They're both fine; consistency is more important.
     
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  3. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    My understanding is that the apostrophe only goes on the end when referring to a possessive element of a company or business name that ends in S. For instance the bookstore Waterstones. It would be Waterstones' car park.

    But I could be wrong and probably am.
     
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  4. Earp

    Earp Rolling Thunder Contributor

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    For what it's worth, I use James'. James's sounds too Seuss-ish to me.
     
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  5. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    From what I understand, to make a singular noun possessive, it would be James's. "The ball was James's toy". To make a plural noun possessive, it would be just the apostrophe, as in "the twins' parents".
     
  6. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    According to Strunk and White's Elements of Style, it's always 's, no matter what letter is at the end of the name: James's, Myers's.
     
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  7. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    Oxford suggests to use -s's only when you'd say the second S out loud.

    I tend to wriggle past that and generally go -s' everywhere, which means James' in your case.
     
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  8. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Second vote for this! If it's denoting possession, it's always 's, even when it ends in an s. Does it look weird? Sometimes. Doesn't mean it's not right!
     
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  9. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    A lot of people don't pronounce it right though. It's always pronounced James's, but some people say James without the extra "s."
     
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  10. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    Yeah, I totally get that. I was more meaning to highlight that even the "highest authority" over this debate is somewhat vague on it. Which is why I'm comfortable just consistently going with one over the other. To me, the visage of a s's is an eyesore. Sisters's. Sounds like writing dialogue for a snake.
     
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  11. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Like the Sanderson Sisters' Black Flame Candle?
     
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  12. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Sisters is plural, so the possessive is sisters', unless that's a name, in which case it's Sisters's (as in The Andrews Sisters's last single,) regardless of how weird that sounds. Sometimes the English language is awkward.
     
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  13. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    You wouldn't say it like that though; you'd say "Andrews Sisters'." I think this is a case where the spelling conventions don't match with the spoken language.
     
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  14. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I say it that way. As far as spoken language is concerned, people say all sorts of things that are incorrect.
     
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  15. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    I've never been in a situation where I've heard it pronounced that way, so maybe it's not a case of correct vs. incorrect? I would say "The Andrew Sisters' new album" and so would everyone I know.
     
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  16. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    You don't have to follow the rules if you don't want to. I don't think anyone cares. The OP was about the rules. We've defined the rules, and we've shown how some people write and speak regardless of said rules. I think that covers it.
     
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  17. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I'm with you on this. Grammatically right or wrong, I can't imagine anyone saying "The Andrew Sisters-zizz new Album."
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  18. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    I don't know that this is a rule, in regards to the pronunciation? I've literally never heard it pronounced the way you say it should be.
     
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  19. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Yeah. You mentioned that already. This has become unproductive. We can disagree. You don't have to keep restating it.
     
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  20. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    That wasn't the main point of my post, so sorry if I restated it too many times. I just wanted to find out where you got the rule in the first place.
     
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  21. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    There is no official standard, but William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White The Elements of Style is as close as it gets to an American Standard.
     
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  22. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber epic gamer Contributor

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    Oh, yeah obviously it's a rule in written English, but I would say that doesn't extend to spoken English. Anyway, thanks for bearing with me.
     
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  23. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    It's a style thing, orthography, really. Nothing to do with grammar. In the past, there used to be exceptions for historical names ending in S (Jesus, Moses & pals), but in recent years that's been abandoned. Now every possessive name ending in S gets the apostrophe-S.

    For the long names that sound out in "eeze," the apostrophe-S is silent when you pronounce it. You still type it though. That used to be an exception too. I guess it's just easier to always add it.

    Xerxes's army
    Archimedes's Lever
    Eratosthenes's Sieve
    But because it's just style, you can have a house style that keeps to the old form.
     
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  24. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    But that doesn't apply to company names, does it? Using my previous example would it not be "I left the car in Waterstones' car park when I went there to buy a book.", rather than "I left the car in Waterstones's car park when I went there to buy a book." ?
     
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  25. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Yes, it does. If the noun is singular, you use 's. So it would be "Waterstones's", or "Boots's". Waterstones used to be called Waterstone's. I have no idea what the rule would be in that case.
     
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