Suppose there was a user of one of these sites whose handle was Won't. How would one form the possessive of this username to refer to that user's post?*

Won't's answer

Given that the 's possessive construction is apparently derived from a contraction, and the existence of a fair number of double contractions, I suspect this first one might be correct, but frankly, it looks weird to me.

Won'ts answer

One apostrophe in its usual place looks a little better to me, but it also looks like it might be a pluralization,** even though that doesn't make sense in context. This choice might read confusingly.

Wont's answer

This seems to be a non-starter, since it changes the name for the sake of forming the possessive.

Is the first one right, or is there a possibility I've missed?*

*Aside from using "the post by Won't" or similar rewriting.
**Especially given "Do's" and "don'ts" or "do's" and "don't's"?


Your first formation (Won't's) is correct. It looks weird, perhaps, because it's an unusual situation, but there you have it. If somebody uses a contracted word as his/her username or handle, forming the possessive is going to look strange. Just gotta live with it!

| improve this answer | |
  • True, it's an edge situation. Any chance you have a reference source? "Always form the possessive with an apostrophe, no exceptions" -- Bloom Picayune Style Guide? – jscs Nov 5 '13 at 20:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.