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8th November 2012, 13:57
I would like to be enlightened on a question of grammar concerning the apostrophe.
I understand fully when one needs to be inserted when one talks about something belonging to the noun or pronoun.
For example: Les is going to Paul's house today
This is where the apostophe is placed correctly between the 'l' and the 's' at the end of Paul's.
However, I tend to get confused when it reads the other way round because I have seen examples of both the following and don't know which is the grammatically correct version or are both correct.

Example 1 - Paul is going to Les's house today

Example 2 - Paul is going to Les' house today

It seems that when the pronoun finishes with 'S' as in 'Les' sometimes an extra 'S' is added after the apostrophe and sometimes it's omitted.

Are both correct or is one wrong, or is there a qualifying situation for each to be correct in their own right.

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8th November 2012, 14:05
Hi les
It really irritates me when I see, for example "Hank Williams' guitar". This mean a guitar belonging to more than one "Hank William". I know it looks ugly, but the extra "S" should always be added to a name ending in "S". For example, Chris's opinion, rather than Chris' opinion! The trailing apostrophe is used for plural words ending in "S" - for example "the Romans' roads".
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8th November 2012, 14:09
You've opened a right can of worms there, Les! It really boils down to 'house style' or which you prefer. I think most people would write 'Les's' but then there's a damn great sign reading 'St Thomas' Hospital' which looks wrong to most people.
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8th November 2012, 14:15
You should write what you say, with an extra S if that is pronounced. One example of each:

I found James's pen.

The Greeks never found Xerxes' body after the battle.

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8th November 2012, 14:17
So, if I was writing
The romans
this is correct as in more than one Roman
but if it has a word following it as in roads
and it belongs to the romans as a whole, then it's
The Romans' roads

It could get confusing but I have been enlightened Chris.

Thanks Rambler, and yes, that's what I meant. I have seen it used in both ways in many writings and couldn't pin down when it was grammatically right or wrong. I guess more will comment on this.

Thanks guys
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8th November 2012, 14:19
Ah, chers Torky, that sounds so simple to understand, if it's pronounced, put in the 'S' and if not, then don't

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8th November 2012, 14:22
Just a quick check Torky

What about this sentence without a name ending in 'S'

The greeks never found John's/Johns body after the battle

That should have the apostrophe shouldn't it... I'm not 100% sure now
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8th November 2012, 14:23
I realise the Greeks should have a capital letter there, can't be getting that wrong on a thread about grammar can I
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8th November 2012, 14:26
In current American usage the possessive must be formed with 's when the word ends with s, and I think that this consistency prevents a lot of confusion. There may be a couple of exceptions that arise from long tradition, a notable one being "Jesus'"- "for Jesus' sake", for example.
Does anyone know if there's a term for what you might call a double possessive? Say you have a school named St. John's, and you're referring to its basketball team. Do you write (or say) St. John's's, which would technically be proper, or just say "What the heck" and let it go? I'm all for clarity. It may seem awkward, but I'd use two apostrophes.
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8th November 2012, 14:26
Don't forget the question mark Les!
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