What is the proper spelling: St Matthew's or St. Matthew when not followed by the word "Church".


"There will undoubtedly be tradeoffs that I will have to make if I stay with St. Matthew’s."


My contention is that when St Matthew's is written as plural possessive without the word "Church" following it, then Church is understood to follow.

  • What is the official name of the church in reference here?
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 6:47

2 Answers 2


This may depend on factors other than a consideration of traditional grammar.

There is a St Matthew Church (not St Matthew's Church) in Charlotte, another in Glendale Heights, another in San Mateo ...

Thus one finds:

Rev. Evans and all of us at St. Matthew welcome you!


Though St Matthew welcomes you probably needs rephrasing using notional concord!

This is in line with the growing trend to drop apostrophes in constructions where association rather than true possessives are involved:

Achilles tendon (still sometimes apostrophised)

Pilton Working Mens Club

Waterstones Bookshops

childrens clothing department

St James Park (amongst others), etc ...

although these examples all retain the s after the apostrophe has been ousted, which sometimes produces frightening new words like mens and childrens.

  • 1
    But we, in Britain, wouldn't say 'There is a St Matthew church in Kensington', would we? Surely that would be 'St Matthew's', wouldn't it? Unless of course the name St Matthew signified a special kind of denomination, like Unitarian (there is a Unitarian church near me), which it doesn't, personally I would always use an apostrophe.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 7:43
  • @WS2; I think it depends on the individual parish. I have certainly attended both an All Saints Church and an All Saints' Church; how the names arise I did not ask. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 10:00
  • @WS2 We're supposed to write "I went to Waterstones bookshop in Manchester" nowadays (yes, even we in Britain). And "Daventry Working Mens Club" and "Leigh Academies Trust" (but "Ascent, An Academies’ Trust in Sunderland"). Admittedly, I haven't come across a "St Matthews Church" in the UK. Yet. There is a St Peters in NSW: "the cathedral of the Diocese of Armidale" as well as quite a few with the name St Peter and many with the name St Peter's. Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 11:56
  • And don't go to prison for a jot-and-tittle reason: "In 2009, a resident in Royal Tunbridge Wells was accused of vandalism after he painted apostrophes on road signs that had spelt St John's Close as St Johns Close" [Wikipedia][of course] Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 12:18
  • @Edwin Ashworth The apostrophe is one thing, but my chief concern was your suggestion of a 'St Matthew Church', not a 'St Mathews Church', apparently abandoning the possessive case altogether. Even the Daventry Working Mens Club, acknowledges the possessive, even though the apostrophe is omitted.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 17:32

It's going to be St. Matthew's, because you can read it as either:

The Church of Saint Matthew


Saint Matthew's Church

If you shorten it, only St. Matthew's makes sense.

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