Friday, November 23, 2012

Apostrophes (Part 2 of 4)

(This post comes from Susan Titus Osborn.)

Exceptions to the rule of adding an apostrophe s for the possessive form are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in s. Examples: Moses' Law, Jesus' parables, Euripides' tragedies, Xerxes' armies. (The latest CMS now says we add the s after the apostrophe, but many publishers don't observe that rule.)

To avoid an awkward appearance, an apostrophe without an s may also be used for the possessive of singular words and names ending in an unpronounced s.

* Albert Camus' novels, Descartes' three dreams, Vaucouleurs' assistance to Joan of Arc.

Closely linked nouns are considered a single unit in forming the possessive when the entity possessed is the same for both. Only the second element takes the possessive form.

* my aunt and uncle's house.

When the entities are different, both nouns take the possessive form.

* my friends' and neighbors' children.

Susan Titus Osborn is the director of the Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service. She has authored 30 books. You can reach her at,

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