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This question deals with the proper possessive for words that end with s.

I am wondering how common it is to restructure a sentence as to avoid the awkward possessive form. For example:

I visited Paros' lighthouse.

appears less attractive than:

I visited the lighthouse of Paros.

I am particularly interested how this affects spoken English.

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I think this kind of avoidance technique appears more often in written English, where people are unsure of how to mark possessives. In spoken English you constantly hear constructions like "Dennis's zucchini" and "Lois's sister" and "the buses' scheduled downtime", etc.

That said, I think the lighthouse of Pharos just sounds better than Pharos' lighthouse.

  • Agreed: in the spoken form, native speakers don't tend to hesitate much over the possessive form, but in writing, there's no real consensus between "Pharos's" and "Pharos'" (both are widely used, so there's arguably no need for hesitation, but people do seem to tie themselves in knots). – Neil Coffey Feb 21 '11 at 16:12

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