Monday, July 2, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 11: Possessive Apostrophe Error)

Sometimes apostrophes are incorrectly left out; other times, they are incorrectly put in (her's, their's, etc.)
Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
It doesn't matter what the final consonant is. Therefore:
James's friend
the cat's pajamas

The exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for goodness' sake. Keep in mind that something like Isis' temple would be replaced with the temple of Isis.
Possessive pronouns do not have an apostrophe. However, indefinite pronouns use apostrophes to indicate possession:
one's rights
someone else's problem

1 comment:

  1. "James's friend"

    Thank you for this. Sometimes I feel like the lone holdout when it comes to not dropping the possessive "S" after a noun ending in S. It's one of my grammar pet peeves!

    ReplyDelete

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