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when I want to know something, I call on my favourite pedants.......

(17 Posts)
waitingforgodot Mon 02-Mar-09 10:35:19

so please don't let me down. I have had a total mind blank.
How do I write Fergus' birthday?
Is it as above or Fergus's birthday?

I am doubting myself hence reason for post

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-Mar-09 10:37:40

either is fine.

AllFallDown Mon 02-Mar-09 10:38:47

I'd go Fergus's birthday, because you would always pronounce the second s. That's the general rule with apostrophe-s: if you say the s, write it. You can, however, do it without: these are questions of convention rather than correctness.

senua Mon 02-Mar-09 10:44:26

Agree with AFD.
Fergus' birthday is pronounced Fergus birthday.
Furgus's birthday is pronounced Fergusis birthday.

I prefer the second, but it's personal choice.

waitingforgodot Mon 02-Mar-09 10:52:28

So either way is fine. Excellent! Perhaps that's why I was doubting myself. Merci beaucoup xx

fryalot Mon 02-Mar-09 10:53:30


it's Fergus's birthday.

Never Fergus' birthday.

Sorry, you're all wrong (I think, I'll go and google to make sure...)

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-Mar-09 10:55:24

BBC agrees with us

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-Mar-09 10:56:16

although it does say sometimes one is better than the other to make the meaning clear if spoken - presumably if written it doesn't matter.

fryalot Mon 02-Mar-09 10:56:29

Many respected sources have required that practically all singular nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive forms with an extra s after the apostrophe.

wiki agrees with me grin

here is the wiki page if you can be bothered trawling through it all

lalalonglegs Mon 02-Mar-09 11:04:07

Fergus' birthday may be accepted but it doesn't mean it is correct wink.

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-Mar-09 11:09:27

But it's the BBC! Not wikipedia! wink

lalalonglegs Mon 02-Mar-09 11:34:27

Oh yes, well, the BBC, that unbiased centre of correctness and high values hmm. Have you seen the mistakes they allow through on their subtitles? I mean, put your trust in that west London brigade of slackers if you like but... hmm

<<lala wanders off sounding increasingly like a Daily Mail guest columnist..

StealthPolarBear Mon 02-Mar-09 11:42:52

Well I agree with you but wikipedia could be anyone, couldn't it?

waitingforgodot Mon 02-Mar-09 14:12:40

What have I started here?!!
Will go grab the popcorn and a chair!

Habbibu Mon 02-Mar-09 14:21:41

I suspect this is one that's had variant usage for some time - various US style guides seem to disagree.

This is what the MHRA style guide (used for humanities theses in the UK) says:
The possessive of proper names ending in a pronounced -s or -z is formed in the normal way by adding an apostrophe and s:
Alvarez’s criticism, Berlioz’s symphonies, Cervantes’s works, Dickens’s characters, in Inigo Jones’s day, Keats’s poems, Dylan Thomas’s use of language
French names ending in an unpronounced -s, -x, or -z also follow the normal rule and take an apostrophe and s:
Rabelais’s comedy, Descartes’s works, Malraux’s style, Cherbuliez’s novels
The possessive of names ending in -us also conforms to the normal rule:
Claudius’s successor, Herodotus’s Histories, Jesus’s parables, an empire greater than Darius’s
However, the possessive of Moses and of Greek names ending in -es (particularly those having more than two syllables) is usually formed by means of the apostrophe alone:
under Moses’ leadership, Demosthenes’ speeches, Sophocles’ plays, Xerxes’ campaigns

waitingforgodot Mon 02-Mar-09 14:24:56

I get it now! Thanks Habbibu

Habbibu Mon 02-Mar-09 14:27:47

You're welcome - bear in mind that this is just the decision taken by the editors of this particular guide.

There are far fewer "rules" in English language than people think - or like to think!

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