Names ending with “s”

By Judy Vorfeld When do you use an extra apostrophe “s” following a last name ending with the letter “s”? Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, 6.24-30 says: The general rule for the possessive of nouns covers most proper nouns, including most names ending in sibilants (but see exceptions in 6.26-27 and alternatives in 6.30). Kansas’s; Burns’s poems; Marx’s theories; Dickens’s novels….For names ending in silent s, z, or x the possessive, unlike the plural, can generally be formed in the usual way without suggesting an incorrect pronunciation: Margaux’s bouquet; Descartes’s works. Traditional exceptions to the general rule for forming the possessive are the names Jesus and Moses: in Jesus’ name; Moses’ leadership…”How to form the possessive of polysyllabic personal names ending with the sound of s or z,” says CMS, “probably occasions more dissension among writes and editors than any other orthographic matter open to disagreement.” Gregg Reference Manual, 7th Edition, Sabin, 631 says: To form the possessive of a singular noun that ends in an “s” sound, be guided by the way you pronounce the word: (a) if a new syllable is formed in the pronunciation of the possessive, add an apostrophe plus “s,” e.g., Mr. Morris’s eyeglasses; Miss Knox’s hairdo; Mrs. Lopez’s term paper…(b) If the addition of an extra syllable would make a word ending in an “s” hard to pronounce, add the apostrophe only, e.g., Mrs. Phillips’ comment; Mr. Hastings’ bike… There will always be controversy on this “style” issue, since some style guides call for only an apostrophe followed by the letter “s.” Some are more concerned with the way a word looks in...

Diagramming Sentences

By Judy Vorfeld How do I diagram sentences? Here are several good sites that have diagrams to help you understand: 500 Sentence Diagrams: Gene Moutoux C. O. Burleson: Abraham Lincoln High School Guide to Grammar and...

Welcome to Webgrammar’s facelift

So glad you can join me on this upgraded, updated site! I’ll be adding grammar and writing tips and also comments from my visitors, so feel free to contact me. Here’s the first writing tip: By Judy Vorfeld When writing a letter, what form do I use to address a woman? When writing to a married woman, follow her preference for first and last names if you know it. She may prefer to be addressed by her original name (Ms. Joan L. Conroy). If you do know that she is using her husband’s last name, continue to use her own first name and middle initial (Mrs. Joan L. Noonan). The form that uses her husband’s first name and middle initial as well (Mrs. James W. Noonan) is acceptable only for social purposes. It should never be used when addressing a business letter to a married woman, and it should not be used when a married woman becomes a widow unless she indicates that this is her preference. In selecting Ms., Mrs., or Miss, always respect the woman’s preference. If it is not known, use the title “Ms” or omit the courtesy title altogether. The examples Gregg gives are “Dear Ms. Noonan” or “Dear Joan Noonan.” I vote for “Ms.” if you don’t know her preference, and it’s business-related. In the strictest sense of the word, socially, says long-dead and dearly beloved Emily Post, use Mrs. James W....