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I don't think this has yet been covered in any of the other questions on similar topics. There was one other very similar question, however, it was not specifically talking about the case where the proper noun ends in a plural noun. Feel free to vote to close if I am wrong.

What is the correct way to make a proper noun ending in a plural noun ending in an "s" possessive? This frequently happens with corporations, e.g., "Dunkin' Donuts." Should one work off of the fact that the entity is singular—suggesting Dunkin' Donuts's—or should one work off of the fact that "Donuts" is plural and ending in an "s"—suggesting Dunkin' Donuts'?

I expect that the answer might depend on dialect because some regions refer to corporations in the singular form ("Dunkin' Donuts is a company") while other regions refer to corporations in the plural form ("Dunkin' Donuts are a company"). I am specifically interested in American English, but would be interested in hearing answers for other dialects too.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

All you do is listen to what people say, and then write that down. That is the only rule that matters.

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So, what you are saying is that if people conversationally add an extra "iz" to the end of the word then add "'s" in writing, else just add an apostrophe? –  ESultanik Nov 1 '12 at 14:22
    
@ESultanik Precisely. –  tchrist Nov 1 '12 at 19:04
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In the Dunkin' Donuts example, both with and without the extra "iz" sound plausible to me. So, how does one determine what people say? Would you claim that both constructions are valid? –  ESultanik Nov 4 '12 at 15:13
    
@ESultanik One typically determines what people say by listening to them make unprompted, casual utterances. My intuition is that most speakers add no bonus -iz. Compare “Dunkin’ Donuts’ best product is their custard bismark” without the -iz, versus “Dunkin’ Donuts’s best product is their custard bismark” with a bonus -iz at the end. I rather doubt you are apt to hear the second in equal distribution with the first, but that is just a guess, and only actual field work can answer the question. –  tchrist Nov 4 '12 at 15:38
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@binki No, I am saying that you should spell it the way you pronounce it. See english.stackexchange.com/questions/1073/… –  tchrist Jan 2 at 16:44

The doughnuts do not make up the company.

Dunkin' Donuts is the company's name

Something that belongs to the company would be "Dunkin' Donuts' annual report"

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According to the answer to this question, if we treat the company name as singular, then it should actually be "Dunkin' Donuts's annual report". –  ESultanik Oct 31 '12 at 17:09
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@ESultanik but the comment makes it even simpler (and this is the rule I always learned in the USA). –  Fuhrmanator Nov 1 '12 at 7:36

According to Fowler, according to Truss, the 'rules' for nouns ending in s (and a subset would be plurals ending in s) are:

(1) Names ending in an '-iz' sound do not take a second s - Moses'; Bridges'

(2) Names not ending in an '-iz' sound and 'from the ancient world' do not take a second s either - Archimedes' screw; Achilles' heel

[(2b) Jesus has a poetic alternative: Jesus' disciples; Jesu's disciples]

(3)Modern names ending in s, and foreign names where the final s is not pronounced, take a second s:

Keats's poems; Davy Jones's locker.

However, this leads to inconsistencies: Athens' original games were held millenia ago; Athens's most recent Olympics were held within living memory.

Many companies, institutions and place-names contain apostrophes already as they refer to a pseudo-possessive - but others don't: Lloyd's (Insurance); King's Cross Railway Station; Lloyds (now Lloyds TSB), the bank; Kings Cross itself. One would perhaps have to write Lloyd's's employees... .

The 'rules' are broken so many times that they can hardly be deemed actually to be rules. Davy Jones' locker seems the far more common variant. And different style guides give different recommendations anyway. There is no apostrophe czar (though many pretenders).

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The Laws of Moses become Moziziz Lawz in modern English. They are not Mozaz Lawz. Same with In Jeeziziz Name Amen. All those “rules” are so much hooey if they do not map to what people say. –  tchrist Oct 31 '12 at 18:23
    
Modern must be post-2009 then: 'And where I come from, the possessive form of Jesus and Moses are NOT generally pronounced with three syllables at all. ‘For Jesus’s sake’, or ‘Moses’s staff’..? They really grate on the ear.' –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 31 '13 at 10:31
    
I cannot remember hearing Moses pronounced as “Moziz”; I thought it was always “Mozis”. –  binki Jan 2 at 16:28
    
I've never heard your version! I'm sure they're both 'correct', though they're both anglicisations of the Hebrew, of course. Here's a dictionary giving what it says are 'North American' and 'British' pronunciations, both ending with the -z rather than the -s sound. I've come across another guide recommending the final -s sound, but where the chap reading it out seems rather to use the -z. –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 2 at 16:52

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