PDA

View Full Version : Possessive... Markus' or Markus's?



Paul J. Andrew
02-27-2006, 11:39 PM
As suggested in Uncle Jim's thread I picked up a copy of Strunk and White. On the very first page something struck me as quite odd. Ever since gradeschool I've been told possessive of a person whose name ends with an s is simply an apostrophe. Ie: Markus'. But the little grey book says to use apostrophe followed by an s, whatever the final consonant (Markus's). So, since it sounds right to me I simply follow what I was taught in school. Is there a definitive correct way to address this?

maestrowork
02-27-2006, 11:43 PM
With fiction, many house styles call for "Markus's."

Shiraz
02-27-2006, 11:49 PM
Markus's is correct. s' is plural only, e.g., the ten walruses' fangs

Paul J. Andrew
02-27-2006, 11:52 PM
Thanks, that helps. (Still sounds strange to my ears though)

arrowqueen
02-28-2006, 01:37 AM
"Markus'", though correct, has become outdated nowadays. As Maestro says, most publishers now prefer 'Markus's.'

PastMidnight
02-28-2006, 01:47 AM
I was wondering if this was a newer convention. I had been taught Markus' as well, but just looked it up in the grammar reference that I have, and it prefers Markus's, although acknowledges that both are grammatically correct.

reph
02-28-2006, 02:49 AM
The Chicago manual, 12th ed., says to add apostrophe plus "s" (Jefferson Davis's home, Dickens's novels), but:


Exceptions are the names Jesus and Moses and Greek (or hellenized) names of more than one syllable ending in es:

Jesus' nativity
Moses' leadership
Euripides' plays . . .
Xerxes' army

Maryn
02-28-2006, 05:35 AM
The St. Martin's Handbook also suggests exceptions for words ending in double-s.

Jesse's hat.
James's hat.
Jess' hat.

I have to agree, apostrophe or not, my eye is not accepting of ss's.

Maryn, old dog working on new tricks

reph
02-28-2006, 06:09 AM
But what does your ear say? The 's represents a sound, a syllable. I hear "Jess-es hat."

DamaNegra
02-28-2006, 06:52 AM
I've been having that question lately. So if I want to say the son of Maximus, should I write Maximus' son or Maximus's son??

SeanDSchaffer
02-28-2006, 08:46 AM
I've been wondering about that myself. I was taught as a youngster (in elementary school) that names ending with an 's' should have only an apostrophe for a possessive. (But then again, I was also taught the vowels sometimes included a 'w'!)

When I read in Elements of Style, that it was supposed to have an 's' after the apostrophe, I was, needless to say, surprised.

So the way it's done nowadays is to say "Markus's"? I'll be sure to remember that. Thanks for bringing this stuff up.


Sean, who is also learning new tricks. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

poetinahat
02-28-2006, 08:51 AM
(But then again, I was also taught the vowels sometimes included a 'w'!)
Man, that's a relief! I thought I'd been hallucinating in 3rd grade! (I remember the teacher being alone in her assertion, and not being able to conjure a single example. Maybe in Scottish or Welsh Gaelic?)

----

This is another ruling that sets my teeth on edge. I'm accustomed to the apostrophe alone (Markus'), and adding the s (Markus's) just looks and feels cumbersome and wrong to me. I'll just have to adapt.

Jamesaritchie
03-01-2006, 04:49 PM
My experience is just the opposite. I grew up having to write "Markus's," and then the style "Markus'" came into being. It's the newer of the two, and from my experience, it's adding that extra es that's outdated..


Some houses have a style guide for this, but many leave it up to the writer. I use "Markus'," and I've never had an editor change it, regardless of the publisher.

That extra es looks wrong to my eye, as well, so I never use it, and I seriously doubt anyone who reads it cares, or will fail to understand what I mean.

PastMidnight
03-03-2006, 06:04 AM
But what does your ear say? The 's represents a sound, a syllable. I hear "Jess-es hat."

But you can't always rely on how it sounds, otherwise the example of "Jesus' nativity" that you gave earlier would be incorrect, as I hear an extra syllable after "Jesus".

I just came across a questionable phrase in my own writing, referring to a character with the last name "Parsons". When using the possessive here, I don't hear an extra syllable and it just sounds wrong to me if I add it. "Mrs. Parsons' parents" compared to "Mrs. Parsons's parents". Do different rules apply to last names and to first names ending in "s"?

In this example, I wonder if the fact that the last name comes from a plural noun has anything to do with the way it sounds to my ears.

reph
03-03-2006, 07:23 AM
But you can't always rely on how it sounds, otherwise the example of "Jesus' nativity" that you gave earlier would be incorrect, as I hear an extra syllable after "Jesus".

I just came across a questionable phrase in my own writing, referring to a character with the last name "Parsons". When using the possessive here, I don't hear an extra syllable and it just sounds wrong to me if I add it. "Mrs. Parsons' parents" compared to "Mrs. Parsons's parents". Do different rules apply to last names and to first names ending in "s"?

In this example, I wonder if the fact that the last name comes from a plural noun has anything to do with the way it sounds to my ears.
Not adding an "s" to "Jesus" is an old convention, an exception to the general procedure for making possessives of names. The treatment of that name stands outside the system, and you can't infer a rule from it.

Do you hear the extra syllable in "In Jesus' name, amen"? Just asking, because I don't. I think I hear it in "Jesus' crucifixion" and "Jesus' birth," though, which shows that we don't always get consistency.

The rules for first names and last names are the same.

I'd write "Mrs. Parsons's," but I might say "Mrs. Parsons'." I'll have to catch myself when I'm not paying attention. For other names that end in an "s" or "z" sound, the added syllable is definitely there: Mrs. Perez's house, Alice's pen, Dr. Ross's office.

Jamesaritchie
03-03-2006, 09:51 AM
Not adding an "s" to "Jesus" is an old convention, an exception to the general procedure for making possessives of names. The treatment of that name stands outside the system, and you can't infer a rule from it.

Do you hear the extra syllable in "In Jesus' name, amen"? Just asking, because I don't. I think I hear it in "Jesus' crucifixion" and "Jesus' birth," though, which shows that we don't always get consistency.

The rules for first names and last names are the same.

I'd write "Mrs. Parsons's," but I might say "Mrs. Parsons'." I'll have to catch myself when I'm not paying attention. For other names that end in an "s" or "z" sound, the added syllable is definitely there: Mrs. Perez's house, Alice's pen, Dr. Ross's office.

I think you should write it the same way you say it. That extra es just reads horribly to my ear, and looks bad to my eye. And I honestly can't see any need for it. I don't think it adds anythng to the word, or to understanding the word. I also think that extra es should be dropped precisely because almost no one actually uses it in speech.

Paul J. Andrew
03-03-2006, 07:33 PM
Well, I'm glad we got a definite solution out of this! :Shrug:

arrowqueen
03-04-2006, 03:25 AM
It whiles away a weary hour.

Cassie
07-04-2008, 11:48 AM
Seeing as how I've rejoined AW (after being away for nearly a year), I thought I'd throw in my two cents here.

I know what I was taught, and I know what some of the Style Guides say. But as a freelance copyeditor, I go by common sense (and a mix of what I've learned).

As reph posted (back on 2/27) about "what do you hear" -- I agree with the approach that if you hear the possessive 's,' then you add an 's' after the final 's.'

Thus --
Markus's boat
The Jones's house (the house belonging to the the family named "Jones")
Charles's friend


BUT,
The Rolling Stones' album (not the Rolling Stones's album)
The Williams' house (not the Williams-ez house)

......

blacbird
07-04-2008, 08:45 PM
This question is the principal reason I tend to avoid names ending in s.

caw

firehorse
07-04-2008, 10:03 PM
I was under the impression American and British conventions differed on this. Any Brits want to weigh in?

(I am grateful to have that cleared up, though!)


(But then again, I was also taught the vowels sometimes included a 'w'!)

I was taught that "y" was sometimes a vowel! Anybody want to claim "j"?

veronie
07-04-2008, 11:26 PM
It's been a debated topic around these parts for a while. There is no definite consensus. Some styles call for the extra es, some don't. Make peace with it. :)

Most people here, it seems, would go with "Markus's."

I tend to use "Markus'" because I have a newspaper background, and the AP Stylebook drops the extra es.

benbradley
07-05-2008, 12:34 AM
What's the name of this reviving-dead-threads thing, Necrozombiethreadia?

The Chicago manual, 12th ed., says to add apostrophe plus "s" (Jefferson Davis's home, Dickens's novels), but:
Exceptions are the names Jesus and Moses and Greek (or hellenized) names of more than one syllable ending in es:

Jesus' nativity
Moses' leadership
Euripides' plays . . .
Xerxes' army
This is just incomprehensible to me. I was taught to add an aopstrophe on the end of a word ending in s to indicate posessive, and that's all there was to it. For exceptions, I suppose I could remember Jesus and Moses, but I have no idea what Greek or hellenized names are.

From what I've kearned in this thread, the following bizarrely and inconsistently punctuated sentence would be perfectly correct:

Jesus' love saved Marcus's soul.

Perhaps like Marcus I also need Divine help after reading this thread...


I was taught that "y" was sometimes a vowel! Anybody want to claim "j"?
That's what I was taught many years ago, aeiou and sometimes y. But I never heard of a w, j or anything else ever being a vowel.

There was the folk-rock musical group CSN & Sometimes Y.

blacbird
07-05-2008, 12:46 AM
But I never heard of a w, j or anything else ever being a vowel.

Welsh uses 'w' as a vowel. Then there are some Balkan languages, notably Croatian, that use 'r'. There was a major pro beach volleyball star a few years back, with the wonderful surname of 'Ctvrtlik'.

caw

Ludka
03-27-2009, 05:24 PM
Seeing as how I've rejoined AW (after being away for nearly a year), I thought I'd throw in my two cents here.

I know what I was taught, and I know what some of the Style Guides say. But as a freelance copyeditor, I go by common sense (and a mix of what I've learned).

As reph posted (back on 2/27) about "what do you hear" -- I agree with the approach that if you hear the possessive 's,' then you add an 's' after the final 's.'

Thus --
Markus's boat
The Jones's house (the house belonging to the the family named "Jones")
Charles's friend


BUT,
The Rolling Stones' album (not the Rolling Stones's album)
The Williams' house (not the Williams-ez house)

......

This works because The Rolling Stones is plural, as are The Williams. The first denotes a band who is a group of stones. The second is a family name, again a group of people. Whenever there is a plural, you merely add the apostrophe. Singular is always apostrophe 's'

loiterer
03-27-2009, 07:41 PM
I'd use Markus', but then I'm Australian, and I went to kiddy-school in the 1970's.

I have a friend who's British, of a similar age, and he'd also use Markus'.

I used to assume it was USAmerican to use a structure like Markus's because USAmerican-English is quite different to British-English and Australian-English.

However, and whether it's the influence USA popular culture has across the world, or another reason, I don't know, but it seems that increasingly younger Australians are using Markus's rather than Markus'. Maybe they're taught it these days. I dunno.

Old and boring at age 36, that's me.

Edited to add: LOL Necrozombiethreadia!! I hadn't even noticed!!

Paul J. Andrew
07-06-2009, 10:24 AM
Good to know that three years after I started this thread it is still a valid issue. Or as valid an issue as it ever was. ;)

blacbird
07-07-2009, 03:08 AM
I usually evade the issue by never using names that end in 's'.

caw