I have to admit that possessive nouns, plurals and punctuation give me a lot of trouble. I often look at things many times before I decide if it’s correct or not. I’m probably wrong about it a lot. In researching possessives, I’ve looked at several websites, college English textbooks, and high school English textbooks. What I’ve found is that no two books or websites list the rules the same. So, today I want to bring up possessives and ask the readers for their input on the subject as well.
I find differences in American English compared to British English which can make it even more difficult for me and probably others as well, especially those who are not native English speakers. In my mind, English in the UK is, or should be, more proper than American English. One thing that sticks out with me is Guinness Beer posters. Guinness Beer is brewed at St. James’ Gate Dublin. Guinness posters add an (’s) in their spelling of St. James’ Gate, (St. James’s Gate). Both are proper and considered correct, but in my “American English”, the pronunciation would be, “Jameseses” and it just looks wrong to me.
According to the rules, to form a possessive of a singular noun, you simply add (‘s), but it becomes a bit tricky to form the possessive of a plural noun. You add an apostrophe to the noun if it ends with an (s), and add only an apostrophe (‘s) if it doesn’t end with (s).
Singular possessive: The traveler’s report.
Plural possessive: These are the travelers’ reports.
Singular nouns as possessives:
Bess = Bess’s, fox = fox’s, business = business’
Plural nouns as possessives:
ladies = ladies’, months = months’, robots = robots’
Proper names that end with ‘s’ form their possessive by adding an (‘s); James’s, Curtis’s, Jones’s, but according to the rules it is proper to just add an (‘) at the end; .
I will admit again that possessive forms do give me a lot of trouble, especially these days when the rules seem to have changed in the last 25 years. Does anyone else run into this problem? Do you think that St. James’s Gate looks odd or were you taught this is correct?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.