Singular Possessive

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by nbs2, Aug 25, 2006.

?

Which is proper?

  1. James's

    27.5%
  2. James'

    72.5%
  1. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #1
    A raging debate has developed at work today - does a word that ends with 's' in the singlar, when being being made possessive, get just an aposterphe or does it get get an aposterphe+s?

    In other words, is it James's or James'?
     
  2. Oryan macrumors 6502a

    Oryan

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    Lincoln, NE
    #2
    I might be a little biased since I have a short name that ends in "s". I would use James' simply because it looks better. I believe James's is proper, though.
     
  3. miniConvert macrumors 68040

    miniConvert

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    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
  4. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

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  5. Spaceman Spiff macrumors regular

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    #6
    I've always said James's. Doesn't look very good though.
     
  6. Kernow macrumors 65816

    Kernow

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    #7
    I've always used James'

    There may be regional/national differences though. I remember from a few of the grammar type threads that the UK and US do things differently in some cases.
     
  7. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #8
    Thinking back to 6th grade, there was a kid named Ross in my class, and we were learning ourselves some grammer. Ross's pencil is just as correct as Ross' pencil. Either one will do, but we all agreed that Ross' pencil looked cooler.
     
  8. savar macrumors 68000

    savar

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    District of Columbia
    #9
    I always use Strunk and White as a grammar reference.

    According to them, James' is proper.

    However, they suggest that for some historical names you could add 's to the end: e.g. Jesus's followers. I can't remember the logic any more but I usually follow that rule.
     
  9. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #10
    AP Style and Chicago agree.
     
  10. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #11
    I was always taught that James' was correct but James's does now appear to becoming more visible in the wider world.
     
  11. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    #12
    Dead on. James' is right. But dying.

    Restart this thread in 2015. Bet James's will win the poll.

    Too bad, really. All that extra time being spent on all those extra esses (plural of s?).

    Waste of alphabet.
     
  12. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #13
    But there are also prominent style guides that say James's is correct -- MLA is one, I believe. I actually had traditionally used James' and switched because I saw this.... IIRC APA's style guide (which most affects me) echoed MLA on this.
     
  13. Brize macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #14
    Indeed. The Oxford Guide to Style indicates that James's would be correct.
     
  14. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    #15
    True. But the Modern Language Association is as antiquated as can be -- might as well be flappers!

    The question should be: do we understand that the word James' is a singular possessive, or do we need to use James's to understand the intended meaning?

    No need to muddle up the language (and its appearance) if we don't have to. It's as aesthetic as it is functional, anyway ...
     
  15. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #16
    You can't really have it both ways! :D First you said that James' is the older but more correct answer, which is dying off. Then you say that the style guides in support of the alternative are antiquated! ;)
     
  16. xsedrinam macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    #17
    I'm with this one. No way I'll accommodate Oxford's interpretation of possessive. James's will be no more than James' and I doubt an added letter will make him any the more, owner.
     
  17. Brize macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #18
    Using an apostrophe alone is somewhat antiquated in itself: it's modern usage that tends toward using the additional s for non-classical names.

    Edit: In the UK, anyway.
     
  18. Brize macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #19
    The problem with omitting the possessive s is that it doesn't actually read that way, and can therefore be somewhat jarring. With this in mind, I defer to the Guardian style guide, which indicates that the additional s should be used where pronounced, and omitted otherwise.
     
  19. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    Aug 2, 2004
    #20
    I voted for James' if for no other reason than that's how I was taught. I agree with others' comments that the additional s is coming into more widespread use, even though I think it's unnecessary and the single apostrophe serves its purpose nicely in this case.
     
  20. Cameront9 macrumors 6502a

    Cameront9

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    Aug 6, 2006
    #21
    English major here (Though certainly not a grammar expert). James' is what works for me, because that is what I was taught way back in elementary school..If it's a proper noun that ends in "s", it only gets an apostrophe to show possessive.

    However, English is an evolving, living langauge, and both forms are accepted by most people as "correct." There is a trend in English to focus less on strict grammatical rules and more on simply expressing content. In other words, if the meaning is understood by the reader as the author intended, it's correct.
     
  21. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #22
    i thought you only put just ' when it's plural and ends with an "s". maybe i'm wrong
     
  22. Lau Guest

    #23
    I find the whole thing annoying because I've always thought both look quite clumsy and wrong. But I was always taught James' is right, and I'm glad to see others say this, because I've been doubting myself lately as I've been seeing a lot of "s's" around.
     
  23. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    Aug 2, 2004
    #24
    I'd say this whole issue is one big pain in the ess.
     
  24. imacintel macrumors 68000

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    Mar 12, 2006
    #25
    james' is proper; i am a proper person so i write james'
     

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