Chris Cannam <cannam@...> writes:
> Guillaume Laurent wrote:
> > Oh, thanks. I thought you'd use a simple " ' " as long as the name
> > ended with an "s". Goes way back to my first english classes.
> Nah, your teacher was propagating a common mistake. The only time
> you use "'" on its own at the end is when you're making a possessive
> of a plural group that ends in s. Plurals that don't end in s, and
> singular nouns that do, get the usual "'s".
> For example, "the teachers' papers" are papers belonging to a
> particular group of teachers, and "teachers' papers" are a general
> class of papers that are owned by teachers, but papers that belong
> to one teacher are teacher's, papers belonging to Chris or James
> are Chris's or James's, and papers that belong to sheep are sheep's.
Just to butt my head in briefly - you're both right. According to my
copy of Fowler's (1926) edition:
"It was formerly customary, when a word ended in -s, to write its
possessive with an apostrophe but no additional s, eg *Mars' hill*,
*Venus' bath*, *Achilles' thews*. In verse, & in poetic or reverential
contexts, this custom is retained, & the number of syllables is the
same as in the subjective case, eg *Achilles'* has three, not four;
*Jesus'* or *of Jesus*, not *Jesus's*. But elsewhere we now add the s and
the syllable, *Charles's Wain*, *St. James's* not *St. James'*, *Jones's
children*, *the Rev. Septimus's surplice*, *Pythagoras's doctrines*.
*For goodness' sake, conscience' sake*, &c."