Where a noun ends with the letter x, is it proper for the possessive form of the word to end with 's or simply ' ?

Example 1:

"It is Xerox' position that it owns the patent."


"It is Xerox's position that it owns the patent."

Example 2:

"The ox's tail was short."


"The ox' tail was short."

  • 5
    I don't believe I have ever seen the possessive indicated by x' instead of x's: Felix's bag, the Codex's author, the box's label, FedEx's earnings. Where have you seen it or why would you think it customary?
    – choster
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 22:08
  • In general, add an 's. (The possessive of the plurals beaux, tableaux may be an exception; they look terrible to me either way.) Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 22:09
  • For possessive plurals, use beaus'/tableaus' as the s should be pronounced and it suffices to use for a plural as well.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 22:20
  • The plural for things borrowed from French has been discussed separately, but this question here is not asking for French stuff anyway, so the answer that applies is this one. You write what you say, and you say "Xerox's position" and "ox's tail". (You can also say "Xerox position" and "ox tail", but these are quite obviously attributive modifiers rather than possessives.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


In general words which have been around long enough acquire an "es" after a consonant in order to make a plural - this also applies after the x ending. In the long slow transition from Old through Middle to Modern English, the "e" has been replaced by an apostrophe, this is oftentimes the case with the possessive form.

Plurals and possessives should be considered separately for the sake of clarity.

With regards Xerox, being a brand name and a recent one at that, may be exempt from Old English spelling rules. The consensus in a search engine query, the plural seems to be Xeroxes like boxes which is also recent enough addition to have not dropped an "e", or the "s" for the sake of phonetic redundancy. The respective plural genitives would be Xeroxes' toner cartridge supply, and boxes' labels.

The plural of ox is oxen, so the oxen (or more cringe-worthily oxen's) pens are secure. Singular the ox' pen is secure. The ox's or oxens pen is secure.

  • 1
    This is all completely wrong.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 2:08

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