Word Choice – Possession With Words Ending in “S”

BizWritingTip reader: “I get mixed up regarding apostrophes with names ending with an ‘s’ or ‘iz’sound. Is it Ross’ book or is it Ross’s book? What about: I’m sending greetings from the Joneses and me?”

BizWritingTip response: To make a word ending in s possessive, you must count the syllables. If the word is only one syllable, you add an apostrophe plus an s.If the word is two syllables or more, then you just add an apostrophe.

Examples

Jones (one-syllable word) becomes Jones’s diary

Ross (one-syllable word) becomes Ross’s book

Thomas (two syllables) becomes Thomas’ report

Words ending with an “iz” sound are normally two syllables so you add an apostrophe.

Example

Moses’ laws (Moses ends with an “iz” sound and contains two syllables.)

Note: If you make Jones plural, it is spelled Joneses. It is now a two-syllable word and does not require an s after the apostrophe.

Examples

The Joneses’ cottage (Several Joneses have a cottage.)

Jones’s cottage (One Jones has a cottage.)

“I am sending greetings from the Joneses” is correct without an apostrophe because there is no possession involved.

Jane’s advice: Limit your socialization with the Joneses.

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