I apologize for the seemingly simple question. I've searched on Google for this, but could not find anything.

The word "Recluse", meaning (noun) "a person who lives a solitary life and tends to avoid other people."

I would normally put an 's after it to indicate possession, like "Recluse's Home". But saying it out loud it doesn't sound quite right.

  • Is 's the proper way to indicate possession after a word ending in "se"?

Extra: How about possessive form of Jesus (no pun intended), and how is that pronounced? I always pronounced it like "Jesuses", but that doesn't flow very well.

  • Sounds right to me. Both of them. (If you know some guy named Jesus, which is not uncommon in certain locations, your pronunciation is right. For the character in the Bible, however, it is traditionally done as Jesus'.) – GEdgar Feb 14 '15 at 17:36
  • 1
    Perhaps it doesn't sound quite right to you because you're not aware that possessive s in contexts such as Denise's father changes the pronunciation to iz. – FumbleFingers Feb 14 '15 at 17:54

To make a possessive form, we add 's after nouns that end in se.

The recluse's house

The house's recluse.

The standards for pronunciation and appending ' or 's after singular nouns ending in s vary.

We can add only ' after singular nouns ending in s.

James' friend.

(The above standard and example is from Grammar for English Language Teachers.)

A search of the Corpus of Contemporary American English shows 1885 occurrences of Jesus' (pronounced GEE-zus) and 200 of Jesus's (pronounced "GEE-zuh-sez"; though the final phoneme would often be weakly pronounced or unvoiced in practice).

I scanned enough of the scarcer Jesus's hits to confirm that they all, or nearly all, referenced Jesus as in Christ, and I also found that a wide variety of genres and publication types were represented (including fiction, academic, and major news publishers).

So my tentative answer is, Both ways, at least in recent American discourse.

However, see also

tchrist's well-endorsed answer to Which singular names ending in ā€œsā€ form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?


What is the pronunciation of the possessive words that already end in s?, identified by Janus Bahs Jaquet in the comments under the question above.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    But when the King James Bible was written, Jesus' was pronounced "gee-zus" (which explains the spelling). – Peter Shor Feb 14 '15 at 18:43
  • @P I see controversy about such issues. I'll edit my answer at least slightly. – Jim Reynolds Feb 14 '15 at 19:04
  • 1
    I don't think "most" native speakers would say Jesus's as "GEE-zuh-sez", and reducing the last vowel to a schwa would be even less likely. Mostly they'd say "GEE-zuh-SIZ". – FumbleFingers Feb 14 '15 at 20:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.