1

I'm normally pretty confident with my punctuation, but this one has been stumping me, and it's probably because I don't know the proper phrasing for what I'm trying to ask:

How to we add a possessive apostrophe to a proper noun when that noun is a plural word?

I.e., I'm working with a company named WeBuyAssets. Assets is clearly a plural, but "WeBuyAssets" is the proper name of a singular entity. Would the correct possessive here be:

WeBuyAssets's CEO (my best guess)

or

WeBuyAssets' CEO (looks more likely to be used).

Thanks for your help!

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, user66974, choster, FumbleFingers Jul 23 '14 at 15:25

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  • What do you say? Do you say it with an extra syllable or without one? Whatever you say, you should write. That’s the only real rule. – tchrist Jul 23 '14 at 3:28
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Just voted up the answers/comments of @PixPrefect and @anonymoose, as I agree with adding an explicit s when making the possessive for such names (see Elements of Style by William Strunk and the James example at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/).

With that said, I would like to add another possible answer.

Sometimes, it is less cluttered to leave the possessive out, if such a substitution does not alter the meaning.

For instance, it is correct to say Microsoft CEO, Apple CEO, or Cisco CEO instead of Microsoft's CEO, Apple's CEO, or Cisco's CEO, when it doesn't alter the meaning.

Similarly, we could say:

WeBuyAssets CEO John Smith delivered the keynote address.

It would still mean, "WeBuyAssets's CEO John Smith delivered the keynote address," and would certainly be clearer in both spoken and written forms.

  • 1
    Per meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/4722, please ‘never’ use 𝚖𝚘𝚗𝚘𝚜𝚙𝚊𝚌𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚎𝚡𝚝 or ˋbackticksˋ on ELU. – tchrist Jul 23 '14 at 14:13
  • @tchrist, advice taken and up-voted! Thanks. Hope you like the way it's presented now :-) – user82373 Jul 23 '14 at 14:19
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WeBuyAssets's would be correct. Since it's a proper noun of a single company name, it isn't plural, so isn't treated as plural.

  • ... But an opinion rather than strictly accurate. "Since writers vary in the use of the apostrophe, it is not possible to make a hard and fast rule about the apostrophe in singular words ending in s.… Punctuate according to pronunciation." (John E. Warriner, English Grammar and Composition) This guide thus advises "choose Assets' unless you pronounce it the way Gollum would". – Edwin Ashworth Jul 22 '14 at 21:42
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    I try to say everything the way gollum would. :-) – anonymoose Jul 22 '14 at 21:45
  • I worked with a company called Kris Agency, and they frequently used "Kris' employees" in in-house documents, but they had no hard and fast rule either way. They found, with ELL employees, that "Kris's" was less confusing. That's the only reason I recommend that version. – PixPrefect Jul 22 '14 at 21:47

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