Monday, March 28, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Possessives


As most of you know, the possessive form of singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe s. If the noun ends with an s, add an apostrophe only.

Examples

the mummy’s curse

a writer’s work

babies’ blankets 


The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition, cites a few exceptions to this rule for common nouns, including “notable cases where tradition and euphony dictate the use of the apostrophe only.”

Example

for appearance’ (conscience’ or righteousness’) sake 

Nouns that are closely linked should be thought of as a single unit. When showing possession, the second noun takes the possessive.

Examples 

her aunt and uncle’s boat

mom and dad’s car 


The book notes that “when ‘ownership’ is separate, however, both nouns take the possessive form.”

Example

our son’s and daughter’s friends

Source 
The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1969.


Call for Submissions

What does parenthood mean to you?

Bibliophilic Blather is looking for Parenthood Flash Fiction for May. As always, submissions should be 500 words or less. Email them to karen@karenberner.com, and please put “Flash Fiction Fridays” in the subject line. And, if you have not already, please sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather, so we can build our online community.

Submissions are due May 2. Thanks.


New Fasano Book Released 

Bestselling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, Donna Fasano has been making her impressive back catalog available for Kindle e-readers. Her latest, Taking Love in Stride, was just released. I know Donna through Kindleboards, and after sampling the book, could not resist purchasing it. Here’s the description.

Track coach Andrea O'Connor is fuming at the audacity of Ian Powers, the very attractive father of one of her students. He offered to buy school equipment only if Andrea agreed to train him for a half-marathon. 


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4 comments:

Jennifer O. said...

I want to throttle someone when I see apostrophes on what should be a plural.

They're everywhere:

Sock's for sale.

Please thrown away sanitary napkin's in trash.

All kid's should be accompanied by adult.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I know, Jennifer. I am not sure how this error became so widespread. Have people learned it the wrong way in school?

llevinso said...

Thank you for this!

Question, when it's a person's name that ends in S, what is the correct form? I thought I knew but I've seen it so many different ways I just don't know anymore...and it makes me feel silly.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks for your question, llevinso.

I looked it up in "The Chicago Manual of Style" and Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style" and was surprised to find so many variations of this rule that I am going to do Monday's "Editing for Grammarphobes" on this very topic.

Sorry I do not have an answer now, but come back on Monday, and I promise to have a full primer on this topic.