Friday, June 7, 2013

Chicago possessives

Sometimes it helps to look things up. Sections 7.17 and 7.18 of The Chicago Manual of Style will make my typing life a little simpler:


[The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (2010).]

In 7.19 and 7.20, Chicago allows exceptions for nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning (such as politics and the United States) and for “a few for . . . sake ex­pressions used with a singular noun that ends in an s end in an apostro­phe alone, omitting the additional s” (for goodness’ sake, for righteousness’ sake). But for all other singular words and names: ’s.

And now I’m trying to remember who it was who proclaimed, not long ago, that nobody writes “Charles’s friend.” Anyone know? The context was most likely a Strunk-and-White bashing, as Charles’s friend is the first example illustrating the first rule of usage in The Elements of Style.

[That first rule: “Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ’s.” The Elements of Style also recommends the apostrophe-only for names from antiquity. Garner’s Modern American Usage (2009) retains that distinction: “Biblical and Classical names that end with a /zǝs/ or /eez/ sound take only the apostrophe.” I wonder whether Bryan Garner (who wrote the Chicago chapter on grammar and usage) will follow Chicago in any later GMAU.]

comments: 3

Barnaby Capel-Dunn said...

Thanks for the source, Michael. I was never to sure of myself on that point.
Incidentally, I often have problems in proving that I'm not a robot...!

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome, Barnaby. You might want to keep a Chicago Manual on your person with which to meet any challenges.

I thought the CAPTCHAs were getting easier to read. Maybe yours was an outlier.

Barnaby Capel-Dunn said...

What, all 1046 pages of it! I would have to choose between grammatical precision and sartorial elegance.