apostrophe - Possessive Form of a Proper Noun Ending in a Plural Noun Ending in "s"?

21
2014-04
  • ESultanik

    I don't think this has yet been covered in any of the other questions on similar topics. There was one other very similar question, however, it was not specifically talking about the case where the proper noun ends in a plural noun. Feel free to vote to close if I am wrong.

    What is the correct way to make a proper noun ending in a plural noun ending in an "s" possessive? This frequently happens with corporations, e.g., "Dunkin' Donuts." Should one work off of the fact that the entity is singular—suggesting Dunkin' Donuts's—or should one work off of the fact that "Donuts" is plural and ending in an "s"—suggesting Dunkin' Donuts'?

    I expect that the answer might depend on dialect because some regions refer to corporations in the singular form ("Dunkin' Donuts is a company") while other regions refer to corporations in the plural form ("Dunkin' Donuts are a company"). I am specifically interested in American English, but would be interested in hearing answers for other dialects too.

  • Answers
  • tchrist

    All you do is listen to what people say, and then write that down. That is the only rule that matters.

  • Richard Haven

    The doughnuts do not make up the company.

    Dunkin' Donuts is the company's name

    Something that belongs to the company would be "Dunkin' Donuts' annual report"

  • Edwin Ashworth

    According to Fowler, according to Truss, the 'rules' for nouns ending in s (and a subset would be plurals ending in s) are:

    (1) Names ending in an '-iz' sound do not take a second s - Moses'; Bridges'

    (2) Names not ending in an '-iz' sound and 'from the ancient world' do not take a second s either - Archimedes' screw; Achilles' heel

    [(2b) Jesus has a poetic alternative: Jesus' disciples; Jesu's disciples]

    (3)Modern names ending in s, and foreign names where the final s is not pronounced, take a second s:

    Keats's poems; Davy Jones's locker.

    However, this leads to inconsistencies: Athens' original games were held millenia ago; Athens's most recent Olympics were held within living memory.

    Many companies, institutions and place-names contain apostrophes already as they refer to a pseudo-possessive - but others don't: Lloyd's (Insurance); King's Cross Railway Station; Lloyds (now Lloyds TSB), the bank; Kings Cross itself. One would perhaps have to write Lloyd's's employees... .

    The 'rules' are broken so many times that they can hardly be deemed actually to be rules. Davy Jones' locker seems the far more common variant. And different style guides give different recommendations anyway. There is no apostrophe czar (though many pretenders).


  • Related Question

    punctuation - What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in "‑s"?
  • kiamlaluno

    What is the possessive of a noun ending in ‑s? Are these both right, or is the second one wrong?

    1. the boys' books

    2. the boss' car


  • Related Answers
  • JSBձոգչ

    Your example sentences confuse two different problems.

    For nouns that are plural (such as "boys"), the possessive formed in writing by adding an apostrophe after the plural -s. This is pronounced the same as the plural and the singular possesive:

    The boys' books [boys' sounds like boys]

    For singular nouns that end in -s, the possessive is formed by adding -'s, just as with other nouns. This is pronounced as if the spelling were -es:

    The boss's car. [boss's sounds like bosses]

    There is a partial exception for proper names that end in -s. These names sometimes form their possessive by simply adding an apostrophe, and without changing their pronunciation. Thus, we often see:

    Confucius' sayings

    Jesus' teachings

    However, this doesn't apply when the name ends with a letter other than s, even if it's pronounced with an s. These names form their possessive as normal:

    Marx's theories

    In the opposite case of a name which ends in a silent s, the possessive is usually formed by adding an apostrophe in writing, but the apostrophe causes the silent s to be pronounced:

    Camus' novels [the final -s in Camus is not silent here]

  • Seasoned Advice (cooking)

    On singular nouns that end with an "s" or "z" sound, Wikipedia has a say. According to the article, there is no hard and fast rule on this one and different "authorities" prefer different styles.

    See also St. James's park and St. James' park.