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Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing
The possessive of nouns ending in s: Steve Jobs's or Steve Jobs'?
Thursday February 9th 2012
Question
The possessive of nouns ending in s: Steve Jobs's or Steve Jobs'?
Answer

Question

Jocie from Taiwan asked: To form the possessive for a singular noun ending in –s, for example, Steve Jobs, which form of the possessive is correct or more widely used, Steve Jobs' or Steve Jobs's?


Answer

Thank you for this question. Because you ask not only which form is correct but also which one is more widely used, it's clear that you understand this issue well. The short answer: Both forms are correct, and both are widely used, and the choice is a matter of stylistic preference.

To form the possessive of a singular noun that ends in –s (Steve Jobs, Kansas, class, boss, etc.) some people use apostrophe + -s, and others use the apostrophe without an -s after it. The best advice I can give you is that if you are writing for a class, or if you work for a company or other large institution, find out which style your teacher or manager prefers and use it. Otherwise, decide which style you like best and use it. But be consistent – don’t use both styles in the same report, letter, memo, essay, or whatever you are writing.

One more thing: Since my surname name ends in –s (Mairs), I think about this question a lot. For a long time I thought there was only one correct answer, but I've since learned that that's not true.

I hope this helps.

 

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