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Possession for names that end in S?

(27 Posts)
DorisShutt Tue 24-Sep-13 15:57:48

So both DH and DS have names which end in s. Stupid me!

I normally convolute sentences to allow me to avoid plurals or possession as I'm hazy on the rules and it is making me look very old fashioned!

So (using the name Charles as it's totally unconnected with either of them), how do I make "the pencil case belonging to Charles" or "the dinner of Charles" look less clunky? (I think it's Charles' with no additional s, unlike David's?)


Camargue Tue 24-Sep-13 15:58:45

Either Charles's or Charles' is fine afaik.

JustBecauseICan Tue 24-Sep-13 15:59:22

IIRC it can be either Charles' or Charles's. I always use the latter but am prepared to be told I'm wrong!

JustBecauseICan Tue 24-Sep-13 16:00:02

(you wouldn't use the dinner of Charles, because you use the "of" construction for objects, the door of the house etc)

JemimaMuddledUp Tue 24-Sep-13 16:00:48

I was taught that Charles' is the correct way.

Mind you, it is a long time since I was in school, so Charles's might be acceptable now.

PractialJoke Tue 24-Sep-13 16:05:15

I think it's Charles' but it can be pronounced Charlesis

AnnoyingOrange Tue 24-Sep-13 16:08:11

I always add a second s

AnnoyingOrange Tue 24-Sep-13 16:10:07

St James's Park

TheFallenNinja Tue 24-Sep-13 16:10:30

Watching with interest. I'd always go with Charles'

AnnoyingOrange Tue 24-Sep-13 16:10:50

St Thomas' Hospital

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 24-Sep-13 16:11:19

Either is fine.

ilovecakes Tue 24-Sep-13 16:13:30

One if my sons is a Louis which I find harder as the s is silent. When people write Louis's is looks like it should be pronounced Louises, so I tend to stick with Louis'.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 24-Sep-13 16:21:38

What happens if you have two people with the same name who both own something?

So Charles and Charles both have a spaniel. Is it Charleses'? Or Charleses's?

heidihole Tue 24-Sep-13 16:22:51

I use Charles'

enjoyingscience Tue 24-Sep-13 16:23:06

Either is fine, though I prefer the look of a ---s' than a ---s's.

HorryIsUpduffed Tue 24-Sep-13 16:29:29

I spell it like I say it.

The Smiths' car is older than the Joneses' car.

James's car is longer than Laurence's car.

TootsMon Tue 24-Sep-13 16:35:17

Both are fine. I have a vague notion from days gone by that s' was used for Important People whereas s's was used for normaltons (so Jesus' disciples or King Charles' shoes or St Thomas' hospital, but James's football) so I use s's with my DS to avoid people thinking I think he's the messiah/king if anyone in the world but me and the admins at St Thomas' hospital know that.

mrspremise Tue 24-Sep-13 18:00:42

Agree with*enjoyingscience*, either is fine, but I consider ...s' to look somehow tidier than ...s's, but I have no idea on what basis I have come to that conclusion wink

OmNom Tue 24-Sep-13 20:58:28

I thought the rule was that it depends on the final sound of the name. If the name ends in an 'iz' sound (eg Moses), you don't add the apostrophe-s - because you'd end up saying 'Mosiziz'

But for Charles, you add the apostrophe-s, because you definitely say 'Charlsiz' (as in 'Charlsiz dinner')

My DS2 has a name ending in S and I'm going to cry bitter tears if it turns out I've been adding an unnecessary apostrophe-s to his name for the last nine years...

OmNom Tue 24-Sep-13 21:07:27

Hmm yes there seems to be some disagreement among grammar nerds on the net but I found this (from heresmile

Personal names that end in –s

With personal names that end in -s: add an apostrophe plus s when you would naturally pronounce an extra s if you said the word out loud:

He joined Charles’s army in 1642.
Dickens's novels provide a wonderful insight into Victorian England.
Thomas's brother was injured in the accident.

Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, especially in names of places or organizations, for example:

St Thomas’ Hospital

If you aren’t sure about how to spell a name, look it up in an official place such as the organization’s website.

With personal names that end in -s but are not spoken with an extra s: just add an apostrophe after the -s:

The court dismissed Bridges' appeal.
Connors' finest performance was in 1991.

OmNom Tue 24-Sep-13 21:08:40

that wasn't supposed to be a smiley, it was a colon followed by a closing bracket.... <slinks off>

topknob Tue 24-Sep-13 21:17:20

Ds3 is James and I always use James'.

TootsMon Tue 24-Sep-13 21:58:52

I can't believe I'm posting this. I can't believe I spent my time looking it up. But here's the rule I was badly referencing before:

Classical, biblical, and similar names ending in a sibilant, especially if they are polysyllabic, do not take an added s in the possessive; among sources giving exceptions of this kind are The Times[22] and The Elements of Style, which make general stipulations, and Vanderbilt University,[23] which mentions only Moses and Jesus. As a particular case, Jesus' is very commonly written instead of Jesus's – even by people who would otherwise add 's in, for example, James's or Chris's. Jesus' is referred to as "an accepted liturgical archaism" in Hart's Rules.

The quote's from Wikipedia ( and I think I remember the rule from Elements of Style which we used in one of my companies.

But on the whole, it really does seem to be that you should do what makes sense. smile

TootsMon Tue 24-Sep-13 21:59:41

My DS also James. Might have to start making him Jim for simplicity.

TallulahBetty Fri 27-Sep-13 18:21:28

My name ends with an S (let's pretend it's James) and I always use James's. James' looks unfinished. Either is correct.

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