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Possessives for names ending in S
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Apr 4, 2009

I would like to know if there is a general rule for using apostrophe-S possessives for names ending in S, particularly names of companies: for example, would we say "UPS's services" or "UPS' services"?

I know the rule varies with place names, as in St James's Park (also St James' Park) and personal names (Socrates' works, but Jesus's message). Is there a general rule about this?


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:54
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
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Just to get this thread going Apr 4, 2009

As a Dutch native speaker I can't be of any real help. These are the rules of thumb I found on the Internet years ago.

one boy’s hat - two boys’ hats
one woman’s hat - two women’s hats
one actress’s hat - two actresses’ hats
one child’s hat - two children’s hats
Ms. Smith’s house - the Smiths’ house

No source, sorry.

Regards,
Gerard


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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
German to English
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Classical names exception Apr 4, 2009

Paul Dixon wrote:

I would like to know if there is a general rule for using apostrophe-S possessives for names ending in S, particularly names of companies: for example, would we say "UPS's services" or "UPS' services"?

I think you do need both the apostrophe and the s.

Paul Dixon wrote:
I know the rule varies with place names, as in St James's Park (also St James' Park) and personal names (Socrates' works, but Jesus's message). Is there a general rule about this?

The basic rule is that if the name is considered to be "classical" then you just need the apostrophe, otherwise both the apostrophe and the s. But compare (especially for Jesus):

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/13/messages/1121.html

with:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/apostrophe.htm


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:54
Portuguese to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Observation Apr 4, 2009

Regarding Gerard's reply, I would like to mention that I am not talking about plural possessives (the cat's paws vs. the cats' paws) but about proper names and place names. For example, how would you use possessives for the following:

UBS (´/´s) branches are in high streets across the country.

Doctors always have to accept Hippocrates ('/'s) oath.

I would be prepared to be undecided about the first and use only an apostrophe for the second - but why?


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xxxK. Ganly  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
French to English
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Acronyms Apr 4, 2009

I think with acronyms ending is 's' it would always be 's (eg UBS's). I'm not sure why, but it seems to be what is generally used. As for other names, not sure what the exact rules are, sorry!

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Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
English to Slovak
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In my opinion... Apr 4, 2009

...UPS (United Parcel Service) as a singular form should take an apostrophe and "s", thus "UPS's".
Biblical and classical names that end with "s" should only take apostrophe, so I would also go for "Jesus'" rather than "Jesus's".
Corporate or similar names formed from a plural word take only apostrophe.

[Edited at 2009-04-04 19:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-04-04 19:42 GMT]


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Renée B.
Germany
Local time: 04:54
English to German
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Possessive S Apr 4, 2009

Here is what I would say:

UBS's (or simply UBS, as many people like to leave the apostrophe out altogether)

Hippocratic Oath, not Hippocrates' oath, unless you were referring to the man for whatever reason.

Hope this helps.


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
French to English
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The Hippocratic oath Apr 4, 2009

is how it's usually phrased though - but I'd also put just an apostrophe on his name

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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
Member (2003)
French to English
Hart's Rules Apr 4, 2009

"An apostrophe and 's' are generally used with personal names ending in an 's', 'z' or 'x' 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 Nicolas's [...]"

It goes on to say that for classical names you would typically use an apostrophe with no 's' (e.g. Euripedes', Herodotus's etc.) BUT if say 'Mars' is used in e.g. a scientific context then it takes an apostrophe + 's': "Mars's gravitational force".

Finally, use apostrophe + 's' for French names ending in a silent 's', 'x' or 'z': e.g. Dumas's, Descartes's.

Hope this helps!

Karen


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:54
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
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link to CMS Apr 4, 2009

This link might be useful: http://www.webgrammar.com/grammartips.html#apostrophe-s

It refers to the Chicago Manual of Style, which I don't have access to. I do however enjoy their monthly questions and answers.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:54
English to German
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Leave the company name alone Apr 5, 2009

As an advertising and marketing writer:

Do not touch the company's name. Many organizations even have rules and guidelines regarding the way how a company name is supposed to be treated: No hyphens, no apostrophes next to the company name. Usually such rules are stated in their respective Design Manual and / or their Corporate Design Manual. Unfortunately such information is rarely provided to the translators. It is: UPS Services, IBM Services, Mercedes-Benz Services.

Forget about the grammar. Company names are sacred.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 05:54
Turkish to English
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A question I have always wanted to ask Apr 5, 2009

This reminds of a question I have always wanted to ask.
What if we want to write "board of directors resolution"?
"Board of directors' resolution" seems wrong to me, because although "directors" is plural, we are talking about the "board of directors", which is singular.
On the other hand, "board of director's resolution" appears plain daft because we are turning "directors" into a singlar noun, which it patently obviously is not.
Any thoughts?


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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
German to English
+ ...
Company names Apr 5, 2009

I wonder about company names, for example Selfridges, Sainsbury's, Morrisons. I can find examples of Selfridges's, Sainsburys's and Morrisons's on the web. I would have most trouble accepting Sainsburys's as correct. I wonder if my logic is solely connected to the fact that Sainsbury's is the only one to put an apostrophe in its name on its stores. Selfridges was originally (still is?) Selfridge and Co, so should one determine if more than one Selfridge was involved in setting up the company? Morrisons is Wm Morrison (Supermarkets) PLC but was founded by Ken Morrison ...

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 05:54
Turkish to English
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Yes, but ... Apr 5, 2009

Nicole Schnell wrote:

As an advertising and marketing writer:

Do not touch the company's name. Many organizations even have rules and guidelines regarding the way how a company name is supposed to be treated: No hyphens, no apostrophes next to the company name. Usually such rules are stated in their respective Design Manual and / or their Corporate Design Manual. Unfortunately such information is rarely provided to the translators. It is: UPS Services, IBM Services, Mercedes-Benz Services.

Forget about the grammar. Company names are sacred.


True ... but with the proviso that this only applies if you are working on that company's own material. Otherwise, if you are translating a text that mentions a company by name but is not published by or on behalf of that company, there is no reason to be bound by that company's style guide.


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Robert Tucker
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
German to English
+ ...
Group possessive Apr 5, 2009

Tim Drayton wrote:

This reminds of a question I have always wanted to ask.
What if we want to write "board of directors resolution"?
"Board of directors' resolution" seems wrong to me, because although "directors" is plural, we are talking about the "board of directors", which is singular.
On the other hand, "board of director's resolution" appears plain daft because we are turning "directors" into a singlar noun, which it patently obviously is not.
Any thoughts?


You form the possessive for noun phrases by adding an ’s or an apostrophe at the end of the phrase: Jim and Nancy’s house, the Department of Chemistry’s new requirements, a three months’ journey.

http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/049.html


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