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March 25, 2016


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Both Sanders's and Chris' are abominations. Consistency isn't worth the distaste of reading either of those. I applaud Gregg's approach, perhaps with a little more guidance as to what final consonants sound better with either. At first glance, it seems like 'voiceless consonant + apostrophe S" and "voiced consonant + apostrophe"?


I didn't think I had a choice... I just followed the AP rule, as I was taught when I was learning English. Is there a difference between AE and BE, perhaps?

Business Writing Blog

Hi Madelyn,

I appreciate your strong opinions. I too like to make singular-possessive decisions based on pronunciation, but I am also happy to follow "The New York Times" approach.

I don't find the terms "voiced" and "voiceless" helpful. "Gregg" suggests basing the decision on one's own pronunciation. So you might write Mr. Hastings' (unvoiced), whereas I might choose Mr. Hastings's (voiced). It depends on our preferences. That gray area is the reason people find consistent rules comforting.

Thanks for stopping by.


Business Writing Blog

Hi Deborah,

The "New Oxford Style Manual," which I use as a guide to British English, says this:

An apostrophe and "s" are generally used with personal names ending in an "s," "x," or "z" sound: Charles's, Dickens's, Marx's, "Bridget Jones's Diary," but an apostrophe alone may be used in cases where an additional "s" would cause difficulty in pronunciation, typically after longer names that are not accented on the last or penultimate syllable: Nicholas' or Nicholas's, Lord Williams's School.

As you can see, the rules above are different from those of "AP."



Thank you Lynn! Though I migh be even more confused now :D what did I actually learn in school? I'm not sure anymore. Anyway thank you for mentioning the "New Oxford Style Manual", I'm surely going to make a good use of it! Forgive me if I made any mistake, I feel my knowledge of the English language is abandoning me... ;o) I love reading your blog anyway!

Business Writing Blog

Don't worry about what you learned in school. Just get an up-to-date style manual and be ready for the present and the future!


Ken Thomas Abraham

This is very interesting. Back in school, I was taught that it was compulsory to put an apostrophe right after a name that ends with an 's' as in "Chris' opinion". It always puts me into doubt whenever i see anything contradicting what i was taught while reading books and newspapers. What The Gregg Reference Manual recommends is very convincing. Pronunciation is to be taken as a factor for placing the s after an apostrophe. But then again, it does depend upon person to person. Thank you a lot for bringing this interesting topic up.

Business Writing Blog

Ken, thanks for commenting. If you like the approach of "The Gregg Reference Manual," you will use "Chris's opinion." Right? I can't imagine dropping that second syllable when pronouncing the phrase.


Sreehari Tharayil Sathyanathan

Dear Lynn, I recently stumbled upon your blog upon my Professor's request on learning about writing tips. Needless to say (or type rather), I have learnt plenty so far.

Regarding the post: what approach have you observed being used the most? Here I where I study it's a mix between the AP and Gregg approach. I my self seem to be using the former, it coincides with what I learnt during my school days.


Business Writing Blog

Sreehari, I see people applying the rules many different ways. But probably, as where you are, the AP and Gregg approaches are most common.

Please extend my thanks to your professor for sending you here.


Mrs. Charles

How would you manage the plural possessive of "Charles", as in, "We went to the Charleses' for dinner last week"?

The above is my best guess, but, since "Charles" is my married surname, I'm pretty embarrassed not to be sure what would be most correct.

Business Writing Blog

Mrs. Charles,

You are correct. You can also eliminate the apostrophe by saying "We had dinner with the Charleses last week at their home."

It would be easier to use your first names, for example, "We had dinner with Beth and John Charles last week."



A apostrophe only, no additional S is the correct form.
Grammar illiterates made the mistake and don't want to be blasted.
I'm calling you on it.
Stop scrambling and back-pedaling.
Just do it right from now on.

Business Writing Blog

Joe, what a hostile tone! That's the only way I can reply to your comment. Please do not comment again.


Ingrid Fredrickson

Hi Lynn,

I was just posting something on Facebook about Bernie Sanders' (or Bernie Sanders's) comments on Trump's speech last night. I started getting confused about how to use the apostrophe and decided to check it out on the internet. It took me to your blog! Thank you for clarifying this. I had no idea it was so complicated. I decided to use Sanders' because it is easier to pronounce. My mother would have loved your blog. She was an English teacher, and I grew up having my English corrected! Thanks so much.

Business Writing Blog

What fun to get a comment from you, Ingrid. I had no idea that your mother was an English teacher.

I am glad this blog post was helpful.


Hanna Hoang

Hi Lynn,

I need to find an alternative for the Gregg manual for one of my classes assignment. Would you please recommend me one of them. Thanks.

Business Writing Blog

Depending on the type of manual you want, these are good possibilities for you to check out online:

--Garner's Modern English Usage
--The Associated Press Stylebook (2017)
--The Microsoft Manual of Style
--The Chicago Manual of Style



What about... Abdulaziz’ homework or Abdulaziz’s homework? To explain, I’m an ESL teacher and he’s a student.

Business Writing Blog

Hi Jason,

The answer is the same: It depends on which style you use.

"The Associated Press Stylebook": Abdulaziz' homework
"The Gregg Reference Manual": Abdulaziz' homework (so it's not more difficult to pronounce)
"The Chicago Manual of Style," "Microsoft Manual of Style," and "Garner's Modern American Usage": Abdulaziz's homework


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