Apostrophes, plurals, and the pesky letter S

I can’t focus on my manuscript, which is, among other things, about ADHD. Stop laughing.

But I hadn’t forgotten that some of you asked about whether you add an apostrophe s in a word that ends with an s or a z. Chicago has gone back and forth about these issues over the years and editions. I started to write out the quote, but then I remembered, you don’t care. You are staring at your computer yelling “Indy, if we wanted to read Chicago’s version, we would have bought the damn book.”

Right, sorry. Here it is:

Chicago’s definitive rules on how to add apostrophes to words with “s” sounds at the end

1. It is now acceptable, nay, required, to add an s at the end of words that end with an s or z. Sorry folks.

2. Add an apostrophe s to words where the s is silent.

3. Add an apostrophe s to proper names that end  in an s

Kansas’s legislature

but Lincolns’ marriage [this is different because “Lincolns” is plural]

Decartes’s three dreams

Euripides’s tragedies

(Source: Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., 7.15–18)

Exception 1. If the plural and the singular is the same, do not add an s after the apostrophe (e.g., politics’ true meaning or United States’ role; CMOS 7.19).

Exception 2. This one I have to quote because it is really funny “For the sake of euphony a few for . . . sake expressions used with a singular noun that ends in an s end in an apostrophe alone…for goodness’ sake” (7.20)

This is a change from Chicago 15. But it’s the rules for standard American publishing. Now you know.

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13 responses to “Apostrophes, plurals, and the pesky letter S

  1. Yay! I lucked up on being correct. That’s how I felt as I started reading this post. Then I got to exception two, looked up the word euphony, and still feel the gray cloud of “duh?” falling over me.

    I’m going to ignore exception two, and go back to the yay part before the gray locks into place. 🙂

  2. Do any of you have a Masters degree? A Master’s Degree? A Masters’ degree?

    I don’t have one. wouldn’t know. Can’t tell from Uni web sites, as they all have different usages…

    How ’bout it Indy?

  3. Pingback: I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing | writeitdown-ith

  4. Pingback: Grande Full Fat Triple Snort | writeitdown-ith

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