Authorguy's Blog

Mine, all mine!!

Posted on: August 2, 2010

Possession is a good thing, nine tenths of the law and all that, but there is one aspect of possession that is occasionally quite annoying, and not just to me.  When indicating possession in text, the usual way is with apostrophes and Ss in a variety of bewildering combinations.  Or is that a bewildering variety of combinations?  Whatever it is, it’s kind of strange to see a blog post on the elements of good writing craft that displays a lamentable lack of skill with this basic component.

simple possession = noun1 + ‘s + noun2 = John’s car or mom’s cat. 

However, if noun1 already ends in a sibilant, a category of sound which includes both S and X, the usual practice is to add just the apostrophe without the S, e.g., Joss’ masterpiece, Phoenix’ evil plot.  This applies even if noun1 gets its S because it’s a plural, e.g., our moms’ houses.

The astute reader will note what appears to be an incorrect use of the apostrophe in the previous sentence.  “It’s” is NOT the possessive of It.  The proper possessive of It is Its.  “It’s” is a contraction of “It is”, just as “John’s” can mean either the possessive of John or a contraction of “John is”.  What gets really strange is multiple contractions in a single word, which isn’t really on topic but does involve lots of apostrophes, otherwise I wouldn’t’ve brought it up.


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