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    #1

    Possessive Nouns

    when a person's last name ends in an s - where is the apostrophe to show possession. i.e Adams is the last name. Is it Ben Adams' house or Ben Adams's house?

  1. bianca's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    Ben Adams's house. However, there are exceptions (Jesus' mother, Moses' life, other religious figures and so on).
    Last edited by bianca; 14-Jun-2007 at 21:28.


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    #3

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    Apparently there is some disagreement in modern usage. I was taught to always add another S unless, as Bianca says, the possessor is a Bible character (I think Greek mythological characters were also excepted). But my children were taught to never add another S if the word already ended in S. The teacher used her own name as the example to help them remember this rule. "Hmph," said I, "so Mrs. Greaves is putting herself in the same category as Jesus and Moses!" but a quick Google showed many sources agreeing with her.

  2. bianca's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    I used David Crystal's explanations in his Elements of style as ground for my statement. I hope I remember them well (it was some time ago..). I also have learned the same things, while in highschool, as your teacher taught you. However, I guess my teacher was wrong.


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    #5

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    She's not wrong. She's a purist. I always add another S and will do so until I hear Jesus' call to come home :)

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    #6

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    You couldn't be more right!

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    #7

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    In school, we were taught not to add another S though they may be Bible Characters or not.


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    #8

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    So this pernicious nonsense has even traveled as far as the Philippines?

    Seriously, the best advice is, find out what the teacher wants (or what your school or organization's stylebook says) and comply with that. Do be aware that this "rule" is obviously in flux right now, and act accordingly. In the "real world," unless you are copyediting for a newspaper or publisher, no one will think less of you for adding the S or not adding the S.

  5. blouen's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Delmobile View Post
    So this pernicious nonsense has even traveled as far as the Philippines?

    Seriously, the best advice is, find out what the teacher wants (or what your school or organization's stylebook says) and comply with that. Do be aware that this "rule" is obviously in flux right now, and act accordingly. In the "real world," unless you are copyediting for a newspaper or publisher, no one will think less of you for adding the S or not adding the S.
    You mean, an additional S is required except for Bible characters. Please tell me straight, I'm now confused!


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    #10

    Re: Possessive Nouns

    We cannot answer this question. According to some people/authorities an additional S is required except, for reasons of tradition apparently, for Bible characters and some others in mythology or history (Hercules, Xerxes, Ramses). Just like Bianca and I were taught. According to other people/authorities, if a singular proper noun ends in S, there is no need to add another S to make it possessive - just tack on the apostrophe. Just like you were taught.

    Perhaps in another fifty years, all the people who were taught to add the S will be gone, and the practice will survive only as a quaint anachronism, like putting the apostrophe in Hallowe'en, or writing "have n't" as two words. Think of us kindly, then. Use the three or four minutes saved over a lifetime of not having to write all those extra S's to remember those who lived in a different time and place... :)

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