Is there a rule regarding the pronunciation (or lack of) of the apostrophe? I have seen this on tv:

"Enchantress' wrath" pronounced as "Echantresses wrath"

"Gus' schedule" pronounced as "Guses schedule"

According to that the following examples should be pronounced the same:

Jones's car as "Joneses car"

Jones' car as "Joneses car"

Just to make it clear, this is not a question regarding the use of the apostrophe, it's one regarding the apostrophe's pronunciation.

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    You should pronounce possessives the way they are supposed to be pronounced, no matter how they are spelled. So you should never pronounce "Gus' schedule" as Gus schedule but always Gusses schedule. Oct 26, 2013 at 20:26
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    What is the actual question here? Yes, Jones' and Jones's are both pronounced as joneses. The possessive is the possessive, it is pronounced the same way irrespective of how you spell it.
    – terdon
    Oct 26, 2013 at 20:47
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    There is no such thing as "the apostrophe's pronunciation". There is no such thing as a letter's pronunciation, for that matter. It's not the written language that's pronounced, it's the spoken language that's written down. So this question really makes no sense. If you say "Joneses" in your dialect or idiolect, then that's what you say, and no amount of spelling will change that. Spoken language is primary.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 26, 2013 at 21:15
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    @terdon: Not according to this: However, if the singular noun ends in 's' . . . you can either just add an apostrophe (') or apostrophe 's' ('s): 'All of Dickens' novels have now been adapted for television.' 'All of Dickens's novels have now been adapted for television.' Note that these spellings are pronounced differently. If you simply add an apostrophe, the pronunciation does not change, but if you add apostrophe 's' ('s), the possessive is pronounced /iz/. Oct 26, 2013 at 21:16
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    Apostrophe's are completely silent, whether theyre us'ed for contractions, plural's, or genitives. So you needn't pronounce them at all. In any event, English' spelling is full of things you dont pronounce, so theres no real problem here. Oct 26, 2013 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


Firstly, with regard to spelling: "Today it is no longer considered incorrect to use either form (Jones's or Jones') ".

Secondly, ncsu ties together pronunciation and spelling to a limited degree:

Spelling conventions are in some sense an attempt to replicate pronunciation. When style manuals make pronouncements on spelling, they imply that the presence of an extra "s" means that most educated speakers customarily pronounce that sound. The reason that this system cannot simply be reversed to produce pronunciation rules is that style manuals are directed at written language, and they are thus also interested in visual consistency and eliminating visual distractions.

This is in answer to the question:

In American English, how are words that end in "s's" pronounced? For example, if Jones is pronounced as "Jonz," how is Jones's pronounced? And if the above were written to end with the apostrophe (Jones'), is the final "s" silent? Listening to the radio, I notice that many announcers seem to treat the final "s" as silent; but I feel the final "s" should be pronounced as a separate syllable, even in cases where the word is written to end with the apostrophe only.

This article says that you can choose between the addition of the bare apostrophe or the apostrophe s in these cases, but that this then dictates how the resultant should be pronounced. Yet another rule dropped from on high.

This article from Grammar and Style in British English implies that there is a rigorous connection between pronunciation and written form; it recommends that you should decide whether one pronunciation sounds more reasonable, and choose the spelling to correspond as closely as possible. For Jones' / Jones's and Wales' / Wales's, it implies there is no obviously better choice:

Where possessive nouns ending in s make a harsh ziz sound, the option is available of using an apostrophe without an additional s. Thus –

Jones’s house is the one at the end of the street

may instead be written

Jones’ house is the one at the end of the street.

Similarly –

Gareth Edwards was one of Wales’s (or Wales’) finest rugby players.

But the traditional practice is to retain the additional s (Jones's house) unless the resulting pronunciation would be particularly ungainly –

Moses’ tablets / Cervantes’ Don Quixote / Jesus’ disciples

Ultimately, one has to decide whether one is sufficiently pro-'Joneses' to read out Jones' as 'Joneses', etc. In a sense, 'only read the form Jones's as 'Joneses' is prescriptivist. One faces a very similar problem when quoting a passage with alternative spellings one doesn't use, when quoting passages using different spellings, when reading out 'Wagner conducted the Wagner piece' ...

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