Re: Re: GRAMMAR: s's vs. s'
Sun, 26 Jan 1997 14:42:05 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 97-01-25 23:57:14 EST, Mike Lorrey writes:

<<Sorry, any name naturally ending in s gets an apostrophe only when in
the possessive. >>

That's true. But where do you place it?
Apostrophes can indicate a singular or a plural possessive:
architect's (singular) vs. architects' (plural)
boy's (singular) vs. boys' (plural)
We should not add an extra s after a plural possessive ending in s. Instead,
just place an apostrophe at the right of the last s letter. For singular
nouns ending in an -s you may add either an apostrophe after the final s or
you may add an extra s (-s's). Both are correct according to _Handbook of
Current English_ 8th edition, page 135, 1989. Checking the 1991 Scott,
Foreman Handbook for Writers 2nd edition also says s' and s's for singular
possessive are both correct, but Descartes' is preferred as in the example
Travis' (not Travis's). No reference is made to ancient vs. modern.

But, you must be consistent for each publication you are submitting to. Some
(all good) publishers have copyeditors (not so much line editors) who will
catch this (not really an error, more of a convention for that publishing

So, Moses' and Moses's and Descartes' and Descartes's can be BOTH correct
according to that 1989 and 1991 copyrighted books. There is no current
generally accepted rule indicating ancient vs. modern usage in those
references. Also, we may have learned from schools who had a particular
publishing rule to abide by say not Strunk and White. I must spell
connection as connexion for some publications.

<< Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
"The Elements of Style", 3rd Edition, page *1*:
Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is,
the possessive "Jesus'", and such forms as "for conscience' sake",
"for righteousness' sake". But such forms as "Moses' Laws", "Isis' temple"

are commonly replaced by >>

Meaning that could still be correct, but commonly are also correct as:
<< the laws of Moses the temple of Isis>>

<<I happen to have a reknowned grammar book ("The Elements of Style")
in front of me, and I also happen to be right>>

Becareful here. The English languare is changing faster that ever.

<< (unless the style has changed since whenever the book was published, which
is a possibility).>>

Now, your talk'n.

Well. . . , the conventions (no such thing) may be different comparing the
references, but can we at least settle that EoS is not 100% definative?
Nothing is in English. My publishers, at least, will agree with me.

Unless the copyeditor needs to change it. I would use this Copyright 1979
S&W's _EoS_ 3rd ed. reference, Moses or at least Moses' and definitely
Descartes'. <<Mike: "I guess I wasn't clear. Descartes would be Descartes'
in the posessive,
rather than Descartes's" >> Either can be correct but I too like Descartes'
. . . Besides, I get tongue twisted pronouncing Moses'seses and

Dynamically Optimistic,


January 26, 1997
10:22 am PACIFIC