The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘singular and plural possessive nouns

It’s not enough to come up with interesting, entertaining or riveting prose. Writers have to make sure they’re spelling everything correctly. It’s always an adventure to keep on top of grammar, spelling and punctuation. To be a true professional, writers must maintain an accepted style and consistency to their work.

An ongoing challenge for me is possessives ending in s. Since I haven’t been to J school this century, I’m often scratching my head to remember the rules I was taught so very long ago. I keep a dog-eared copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style alongside my keyboard and once again, it comes to the rescue.

For those of you who also struggle with ‘s or s’s or s’ here’s a reminder of the accepted style for singular and plural possessive nouns:

Form the singular possessive of nouns ending in s with ‘s: Mr. Jones’s wallet, Thomas’s music, Doris’s report. The only exceptions are ancient proper nouns: Jesus’ disciple, Moses’ acts.

However, you form the plural possessive of nouns by adding an apostrophe after the “s”: the girls’ purses, the kites’ tales, the pencils’ boxes.

In the case of the plural possessive of nouns ending in s — as in, say, the family James and their minivan — you add an es and an apostrophe at the end: the Jameses’ minivan, the Felixes’ car.

Claire Yezbak Fadden

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The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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