View Full Version : Why I Hate Names Ending with the Letter S

10-30-2006, 02:26 AM
Cress is the name of a character. Looking back at some of my recent changes, I remembered that I had killed him off. That solved some plot problems but created a grammar issue.

Is it Cress' ghost? Or Cress's ghost? Cress's's's ghost? Aaargh!

10-30-2006, 02:33 AM
The Ghost of Cress!


10-30-2006, 02:53 AM
The Ghost of Cress!
I walked right into that one, didn't I? :D

10-30-2006, 02:54 AM

*: The Character Formerly Known As Cress

10-30-2006, 11:05 PM
I'm solid on this one. Each publishing house may have its own style, but unless you know what it is, you're safe with Cress' as a possessive.

The rule--always changing, like so many rules--is now that words ending in a single letter s may make their possessives as either just an apostrophe, or with apostrophe-s (i.e., James' or James's). But the double-s words do not (yet) make possessive's with apostrophe-s.

Maryn, who's written novels with a James and a Jess

10-31-2006, 04:11 AM
I agree with adding only apostrophe s. But that's the easy part. I teach English so what about pronunciation? That is particularly difficult when the ending sound is like a z, as in James. Never mind that many young folks today do not like to pronounce s like z. They also pronounce "and" like "ant" if they pause after "and...". It should be pronounced like z so do you say "jam-zez" or "jamz" with no added pronunciation for the possessive? I always pronounce it with no added sound for the s, as in "Lance". Yeah, don't forget about us whose names end with "ce".

10-31-2006, 05:48 PM
I say "Jame-zez" for both spellings/methods, James's and James'.

My brother-in-law James doesn't look at me funny, so I guess that's what he most often hears.

Assuming you own something (I'm pretty sure I see a sense of humor), I'd pronounce it Lance-ez. But hey, what do I know?

Maryn, who will try to remember those souls whose names end in "ce"

10-31-2006, 09:05 PM
I have a feeling the rules are different, depending on which side of the Pond you're from.

I would always use Cress' but Canadian writer friends would change it to Cress's.

Never thought about the 'z' issue. James's makes sense to me.

11-04-2006, 08:07 PM
Page 1:
1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles's friend
Burns's poems
the witch's malice

Exceptions: ancient proper names
Jesus' name, Isis' temple (often replaced by the temple of Isis)

"and such forms as for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake."

So with very few exceptions, EVERYTHING gets 's, even Cress. I don't think any editor would argue with Strunk and White.

11-18-2006, 11:53 AM
I had this problem with my current novel - I have a Charles, and wrote "Charles' car was black" - so would this mean I'm incorrect and should have Charles's? Find this a rather confusing rule.

11-18-2006, 08:01 PM
[Pounds floor with cane.] When I went to school, they taught us Charles' car was black. But language changes, and now Charles's car is black with red and orange flames on the front end.

It's an easy search-and-replace. I'd recommend you search for Charles' with the blank space at the end, just in case you wrote one as Charles's already.

Maryn, who's renamed characters over issues like this

11-19-2006, 01:34 AM
My CliffNotes grammar book recommends placing only an apostrophe after words with containing two s letters at the end. So, according to that, it'd be Cress' ghost.

11-19-2006, 02:49 AM
fanatic, that's the 'rule' I go by--with two of the letter S at the end, apostrophe -s just looks wrong to me. I'm sure no publisher or agent is going to reject my manuscript because my possessive punctuation at double-s is considered outmoded by some authorities.

Maryn, sure they'll have much more compelling reasons