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What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in s?

Hello! New to English, but doing fairly fine so far... well, here's a situation I had a couple times, and... well, I kind of failed:

When my word ends with 's', and I need to use it for a... umm... possessive statement, do I use the possessive apostrophe? If yes, do I have to put another 's' after the apostrophe? Like:

The beasts's claws!


The beasts' claws!


Both methods are acceptable. However, in this case I think the second is preferable for no better reason than the fact that it looks better without the extra 's'.

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    Er, why do you say "beasts's" is acceptable? – ShreevatsaR Feb 17 '11 at 22:18

Both can occur. Which to use generally depends on how the spoken word sounds: if the word has an extra syllable (with an 's' or 'z' sound) added to it for the possessive, then both apostrophe and 's' are added. If it does not, the only an apostrophe is used.

If the word ends in an 's' but is not a plural, like "class", then the possessive form sounds just like the plural (when the plural is formed by an 's' or 'z' sound). This tells you the answer, but remember that the plural would be spelled with "es" while the possessive would spelled with "'s" ("classes" and "class's"). (A triple 's' sound rarely used, so the possessive of "classes" just adds an apostrophe.)

Usages varies, however, and if one does not know the spoken sound of the root word, this will add to the difficulties. This page may be of some help.

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