PDA

View Full Version : apostrophe



kilamangiro
08-21-2006, 09:26 PM
The countess' house

or

The countess's house

or

The countesses house?

I was always taught that the first was correct and I refuse to change my ways. In most novels i've read that seems to be the way too. But In "Elements of style" we're told to use the second option, which just looks wrong to me.
Sorry if this has been posted before.

Woolrea
08-21-2006, 09:32 PM
Although it looks funny, I'm pretty sure this is correct. The only time you have permission to use s' is when the noun is already plural - so countesses' house would be correct, were there 2 countesses and they owned something.

HTH

Jamesaritchie
08-21-2006, 10:28 PM
Although it looks funny, I'm pretty sure this is correct. The only time you have permission to use s' is when the noun is already plural - so countesses' house would be correct, were there 2 countesses and they owned something.

HTH

Or when it's certian people, as in Jesus', or when the next word begins with s.

This is acually all a debate, and we've had a couple of threads about it. I never, ever write s's. It looks bad on the page, many prefer to leave off the last s, and so far, editors have all seen it my way.

Shiraz
08-21-2006, 10:54 PM
Countess's House

Although it looks funny, I'm pretty sure this is correct. The only time you have permission to use s' is when the noun is already plural - so countesses' house would be correct, were there 2 countesses and they owned something.

HTH

This is correct - I agree.

Heather Lewis
08-22-2006, 02:53 AM
The countess' house

or

The countess's house

or

The countesses house?

I was always taught that the first was correct and I refuse to change my ways. In most novels i've read that seems to be the way too. But In "Elements of style" we're told to use the second option, which just looks wrong to me.
Sorry if this has been posted before.
I believe you can use either:

The countess' house OR The countess's house

...as long as you use it consistently throughout your manuscript. Your publisher will likely have a house style that dictates one way or the other, and it will be edited accordingly once you get to that stage.

MR

ComicBent
08-22-2006, 08:21 AM
The issue of the possessive has never been fully settled in regard to singular nouns that end in *s*. What I mean is that there is no absolutely firm rule.

Nonetheless, in general:

You can always use *'s* for one- or two-syllable words. Consider that very few people would say *The countess' fortune is big*. Instead, people would add a pronounced *es* after *countess*, to produce *countess's*.

Some writers use just an apostrophe for multiple-syllable singular words ending in *s* (usually those greater than two syllables), but even those seem to cry out for *'s* to the native English ear:

Alexis' vs. Alexis's new car.

A complicating factor is that scholarly tradition has generally employed just the apostrophe for any multiple-syllable singular noun ending in *s*, *z*, or *x*, if the noun is a name of some figure from antiquity:

*Xerxes' army.*
*Aristophanes' plays.*
*Jesus' disciples.*

Frankly, though, *Jesus's disciples* is more natural in English than the other form.

My recommendation: Use *'s* except in polysyllable names from antiquity. I even use *Jesus's*.

You can find a lot of information about this in the Chicago Manual of Style.

Ultimately, you should follow natural English idiom.