In the sciences there exists mathematical functions that are named after the British mathematician George Green.

People refer to them in various ways such as:

Green's function, Green's functions,

Green function, Green functions.

To me, Green's functions, suggests that he (Green) tested and investigated each and every one of these functions one way or the other. Doesn't Green functions sound much better? I.e. that these functions are related to work originally done or started by George Green.

For example, here is a little part from the wikipedia page about these functions

In mathematics, a Green's function is the...

A Green's function sounds so wrong to my ears.
How should it be for singular and plural form?


"Green's function" is preferable to "Green function".

For two reasons:

  1. Green is also a color, and sounds oddly like an adjective in "Green function". "The color of this function is green."
  2. Worse, every darned thing out there is somehow or other more noble or virtuous because it's somehow "green": green energy; green technology; and so on. Maybe even green eggs and spam. Or ham. So "Green's function" is not made ecologically sound by being "Green function".
  • "Green's function" is pretty much universal in English. If you see Green function the author is most probably Russian or German. – mgb Dec 5 '13 at 17:41
  • Of course, because Green is a name, not an adjective, in both those languages. – Cyberherbalist Dec 5 '13 at 17:54
  • Hadn't thought of that ;-) – mgb Dec 5 '13 at 17:57
  • @mgb: My diploma advisor is a native speaker (though in his seventies) from London and uses "Green function". – painfulenglish Jun 24 '14 at 8:20
  • @painfulenglish, of course. Just because I say Green's is more correct, doesn't mean there's universal agreement. – Cyberherbalist Jun 24 '14 at 15:47

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