With a name that ends in -s, such as Travis or Lewis, where and when should you use -es, -'s, -s or just leave it alone to both pluralise, and to infer belonging to?

E.g., if the ball belongs to Travis, which suffix would be used in

The ball is Travis[es/'s/s/].

And, referring to a group of people all named Travis, which is correct:

Here come the Travis[es/'s/s/].

closed as off-topic by RegDwigнt Aug 24 '13 at 21:42

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  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – RegDwigнt
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  • "The ball is Travis" means that Travis is not a person, but the ball. With nothing being said about anybody's possession of anything. Likewise, "The ball is Travises" means that the ball has a multiple-personality disorder, and again it is not said that any ownership is involved this way or the other. "The ball is Traviss" — oh come on now, where have you even seen that? I'm running out of space here, but your second example is just as straightforward. No exceptions, no special rules. Merely orthography 101 that you could look up anywhere, though you don't even need to. Just stop and think. – RegDwigнt Aug 24 '13 at 21:42
  • That's a ridiculous reason to close this question as "off topic." This question is a perfect question for this forum. If it was well-known and uncontroversial whether the possessive form of a proper noun ending in -s should include an apostrophe and/or another s, there would be no reason for this stack exchange site to exist! :-). Even the style guides can't agree on this! See here: dailywritingtips.com/possessive-of-proper-names-ending-in-s – JJC Nov 13 '14 at 16:14

There is no special rule here: you simple use the same rule as you do for other words.

That means that the specific answers to your two sentences are:

  • The ball is Travis’s.
  • Here come the Travises.

Those last words are of course pronounced the same.

There are imported -is words that go to -es, like crisis > crises, but Travis is not one of them.

You may wish to study this answer to “Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?”.

  • Not so clear-cut. Even the style guides apparently disagree on the possessive form of a proper noun ending in s. See this: dailywritingtips.com/possessive-of-proper-names-ending-in-s – JJC Nov 13 '14 at 16:15
  • @JJC A style guide was written by a human being, and human beings have long been noted for two things: their capacity for error and their capacity to disagree. The sane and consistent approach is the one based on speech, as that is primary. That some human beings fail to understand this simple linguistic fact does not mean that they have a valid point, even if they write a style guide. It simply means that they are wrong. I have elsewhere explained the phonologic issues here in detail, and no one has gainsaid them—for good reason, because they are sensible and sound. – tchrist Nov 13 '14 at 20:59

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