Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders have differences. But according to the editors at The New York Times, one of them is not the way their names are made possessive. The Times forms the possessive the same way for both of them.
But in the end, Mr. Sanders's populist economic message proved no match for Mrs. Clinton's deep ties in the state.
Do you support the candidates' positions? Don't answer that–this blog focuses on business writing! Rather, do you support the inclusion of the s after the apostrophe following both of their names?
If you do, you have The Chicago Manual of Style, Microsoft Manual of Style, and Garner's Modern American Usage on your side. Those guides argue for adding the apostrophe and the s to singular proper names.
If you don't support it, The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) agrees with you. For singular names like Sanders, which ends in s, AP adds only an apostrophe, not an apostrophe and an s–no exceptions. Following the AP rule leads to these examples:
Pundits point to Sanders' lack of pledged delegates.
Serena Williams' sister Venus also played on Sunday.
Venus' opponent was Elena Vesnina.
If you are holding back, thinking Well, it depends, you are with The Gregg Reference Manual. Gregg recommends pronunciation as a factor in deciding whether to include the s after the apostrophe for singular nouns, explaining:
If a new syllable is formed in the pronunciation of the possessive, add an apostrophe plus s.
If the addition of an extra syllable would make a word ending in an s hard to pronounce, add the apostrophe only.
These examples follow Gregg's rules:
Venus's opponent (the s syllable is easily pronounced)
Serena Williams' sister (an additional syllable would be hard to pronounce)
Daniel Day-Lewis's talent (the s syllable is easily pronounced)
Brian Williams' career (an additional syllable would be hard to pronounce)
The challenge in applying Gregg's approach at work is that we may not agree on which phrases are difficult to pronounce. You might think it's easy to pronounce "Senator Sanders's donors," while I might find "Senator Sanders' donors" more reasonable.
To master apostrophes and other
challenging marks, take my
Punctuation for Professionals
If you appreciate consistency, opt for The New York Times approach, supported by The Chicago Manual of Style, Microsoft Manual of Style, and Garner's Modern American Usage.
Or choose AP's way of doing things. Personally, I don't like phrases like "Chris' opinion," so I don't apply the AP rule.
Or bend to the requirements of punctuation. I like this flexible approach.
Let's agree to disagree if we need to, just as we do at our polling places.
This blog post will take you to a few others on possessive forms: "Years' or Year's or Years." Have fun!