Monday, July 16, 2012

Ask the Editor: Apostrophes, Words ending in S, and plurazing last names with an S


 


Ask the Editor will be on the 3rd Monday of the month. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and more! I will showcase questions and answers. To ask a question, please fill out the form below.





I've been a freelance editor since November 2010. If I don't know the answer, I will find it.  


Christine Rains asks, “It deals with using an apostrophe with a word that has an 's' at the end of it. Years ago, I was taught when you add an apostrophe to the end of say, Rains, you do it like this: Rains'. You don't add the extra 's.' Yet these days, I see the extra 's' being added. Have the rules changed again and now it's proper to add that extra 's'? Also, how would you properly pluralize a last name like mine: Rainses, Rains', or Rains's?”

For the first part of your question: With general words ending in -s, you can either do just an apostrophe or an apostrophe + s as long as you are consistent, such as Severus' or Severus's. 

To plural a last name, you never use an apostrophe, since apostrophes show possession or contractions. To plural your last name, though, you'll do Rainses. If you wanted to say someone was going to your home, you would then use the apostrophe and say, "We're going to the Rainses' today."

For a great website on plurals, click here

16 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good question! I always just add an apostrophe at the end of words ending in S.

Clare said...

Excellent advice. Misuse of apostrophes is a pet hate of mine, so it's great to get the proper use, when used with an S, explained.

deathwriter said...

I always get confused with names ending in S. Thanks for clarifying. Now if I can keep this info in my brain!

Rosalind Smith-Nazilli said...

Shall be following for sure... You know me and my apostrophes..x

Rachelle Ayala said...

Good answer and link. I, too, was confused with people nowadays adding the extra "s" at the end of words ending in "s". I still like it better without the extra "s".

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Fantastic advice from a fantastic editor.

Samantha said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I've been wondering about this lately. I have a character named Felts and one named Evans, so I often wondered if I wanted to make something possessive if I should make it Felts's or Felts'. This is super helpful :)

Misha Gericke said...

Ahhh... good to know I have at least this one right. :-)

Great idea for a monthly theme, by the way.

M Pepper Langlinais said...

It's funny because I was taught what Christine was taught in grade school (for possession form of names ending in S)--however, at uni they told us it had to do with how the word was pronounced when in possessive form. Just an apostrophe if the pronunciation doesn't change, 's if it does. (This is possessive, though, not plural.)

Hildred said...

This is an awesome post.

Nick Wilford said...

Thanks for this. I was taught to leave off the extra "s" too, but I do notice the other way used a lot. I think when people are speaking most will say "Thomas's" rather than "Thomas'", so I think I would say it that way in dialogue.

Jay Noel said...

This trips up a lot of people. I have to stop and think about this when I'm writing.

DL Hammons said...

You see, that's one I always get wrong! :)

Christine Rains said...

Thank you for answering my question! :) I'm glad it's helped a lot of other people too.

M Pax said...

Great new feature, Cherie, and good question, Christine.

Julia King said...

Thanks for the advice. It's those silly grammar rules like that that I have to ponder for a moment as I'm writing. haha