Jesus’ not Jesus’s, but Dawkins’s not Dawkins’
Posted: 08 July 2009 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I was surprise to find out that when creating a possessive from a name that ends with an “s” and is of a biblical nature (Jesus’ teaching) you don’t add an “s” at the end.  The same applies to other historical and classical characters, such as Achilles or even Dickens. So go figure. What a mess! So “Dickens’” (the writer) doesn’t have an “s” at the end because he lived in the nineteenth century and was famous, but your neighbour who’s last name happens to be also Dickens would have one. I swear to Zeus, English is gonna be my death one day…

[ Edited: 08 July 2009 11:30 AM by George ]
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Posted: 08 July 2009 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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George - 08 July 2009 11:09 AM

I was surprise to find out that when creating a possessive from a name that ends with an “s” and is of a biblical nature (Jesus’ teaching) you don’t add an “s” at the end.  The same applies to other historical and classical characters, such as Achilles or even Dickens. So for figure. What a mess! So “Dickens’” (the writer) doesn’t have an “s” at the end because he lived in the nineteenth century and was famous, but your neighbour who’s last name happens to be also Dickens would have one. I swear to Zeus, English is gonna be my death one day…

Where’d you get that? I’ll have to check my Strunk and White ...

wink

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Posted: 08 July 2009 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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dougsmith - 08 July 2009 11:17 AM

Where’d you get that? I’ll have to check my Strunk and White ...

wink

I got it from The Globe and Mail Style Book. But I should have added that it also says the following:

If there is truly doubt or dispute and no recent Globe usage to fall back on, add an apostrophe and an s (as Strunk and White advice).

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Posted: 08 July 2009 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I thought you could use ‘s or just an if the proper name ended in s.  That is what I was taught in grammar school.

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Posted: 08 July 2009 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Chicken - 08 July 2009 11:34 AM

I thought you could use ‘s or just an if the proper name ended in s.  That is what I was taught in grammar school.

Yes, I have noticed that most people (except for Doug and most books I read) don’t use an s at the end. But I have checked two different style guides and they both say that an s should be there — except for the example in my OP. (I have been following this for some time now because two of my sons’ names end with an s.)

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Posted: 08 July 2009 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I have no problem when I just add a final apostophe without adding an s to whatever I write because no one I know wants to argue with a crotchety, aggressive, old fud, nitpicker.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 09 July 2009 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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George - 08 July 2009 11:41 AM
Chicken - 08 July 2009 11:34 AM

I thought you could use ‘s or just an if the proper name ended in s.  That is what I was taught in grammar school.

Yes, I have noticed that most people (except for Doug and most books I read) don’t use an s at the end. But I have checked two different style guides and they both say that an s should be there — except for the example in my OP. (I have been following this for some time now because two of my sons’ names end with an s.)

My son’s name ends in s also.  He is named after an ancient god, does that mean I don’t need the s?  I rather like not using the s.

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Posted: 09 July 2009 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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My (sur)name used to end in an ‘s’ and I always just put a ’ after it to denote the possessive, as I do with my son’s name. That is what I was taught in elementary school and I have never had a complaint or ‘correction’ LOL

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Posted: 09 July 2009 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yes, as I said earlier most people use apostrophe only.

I suspect the reason why it seems so difficult to agree on a set of rules in English is perhaps because the language is constantly evolving. How many times have I only heard when trying to find out what a certain rule may be: “Do whatever you feel is right.”  long face

[ Edited: 10 July 2009 06:19 AM by George ]
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Posted: 09 July 2009 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Associated Press style is to add an apostrophe only, as in Dawkins’.

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Posted: 09 July 2009 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I find that the best course of action is to guess, and then let someone snooty correct me.  LOL

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Posted: 09 July 2009 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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There is no real “right” and “wrong” to these things; it’s all cultural. That’s why I can understand it either with or without an “s”, but the option George mentioned in the OP makes no freaking sense at all. It’s the sort of thing designed by people who want to be sure that there are insiders and outsiders, where the insiders know all the secret signs and handshakes.

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Posted: 10 July 2009 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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dougsmith - 09 July 2009 04:53 PM

There is no real “right” and “wrong” to these things; it’s all cultural.

I wonder where the reason for this confusion comes from. How about this for a possible explanation: “Dawkins’” looks better than “Dawkins’s”, but we do pronounce two ss at the end. One s looks better, but two ss sound better.

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Posted: 10 July 2009 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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George - 10 July 2009 06:31 AM

I wonder where the reason for this confusion comes from. How about this for a possible explanation: “Dawkins’” looks better than “Dawkins’s”, but we do pronounce two ss at the end. One s looks better, but two ss sound better.

Well, there’s something to be said for simplicity: Always put an ‘s at the end for a possessive, unless it’s also a plural in which case put s’.

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Posted: 10 July 2009 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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dougsmith - 10 July 2009 06:36 AM
George - 10 July 2009 06:31 AM

I wonder where the reason for this confusion comes from. How about this for a possible explanation: “Dawkins’” looks better than “Dawkins’s”, but we do pronounce two ss at the end. One s looks better, but two ss sound better.

Well, there’s something to be said for simplicity: Always put an ‘s at the end for a possessive, unless it’s also a plural in which case put s’.

Good point.

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