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Let's assume I have a text talking about Mrs. Jones and I want to start a section talking about her childhood. Which of the following forms, if any, is valid?

Mrs.'s childhood

or

Mrs.' childhood

or

Mrs'. childhood

Is there a rule for the possessive of "Mrs." whose last letter is an s but not the last character? Or should this simply be avoided and

Mrs. Jones's childhood

has to be spelled out?

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    Wise people would probably avoid any such written form to avoid having their prose look terrible. (And hardly any decent writer would capitalize "childhood" in this context–which is why I edited your question. Just as you did not capitalize it the first time you used it.) Aug 6, 2017 at 13:07
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    Honorific titles such as Mr., Mrs., Ms. are ordinarily used only with following surnames, never as free-standing proper nouns. Aug 6, 2017 at 13:17
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    You could use the spelled out missus. Merriam-Webster says that it is informal, but Wikipedia mentions that it may appear as such in dialogue in literature. I'm still not sure how you would make it possessive, because it brings about the whole Jesus' vs. Jesus's debate, which is highly contested.
    – vpn
    Aug 6, 2017 at 13:26
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    I'd write Mrs' childhood. Or Missus' childhood before I would write any of the three you ask about. Aug 6, 2017 at 13:27
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    Well I don't agree it should not be done. I am saying that I would try to avoid writing any of the three options you ask about and that I would pick from at least two other forms if forced to come up with a way to conform to the "government restraints" you mention. Most of here are familiar with unreasonable government restraints. If forced to choose from among your three options I might do so at random and take no personal responsibility for it. Aug 6, 2017 at 13:41

1 Answer 1

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None of the above. "Mrs." functions as an adjective. Sometimes an adjective (say, blue in "the blue team") can be understood as a noun, e.g.

I think blue's ahead.

Mrs. can't be used similarly, e.g.

I think Mrs.' order is ready. (incorrect)
I think the Missus' order is ready. (acceptable but idiomatic)

Better is your own suggestion:

Mrs. Jones' childhood ...

or

Her childhood...

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    -1 it is clearly not functioning as an adjective when it is not preceding a name. Aug 6, 2017 at 14:14
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    @Clare - Can you tell me, is it an adjective when someone says, "Is it Miss, Mrs., or Ms.?" How is it different from is it blue, red, or yellow? You're wrong. It's still an adjective. It's not an adjective in "the Missus", because it's synonymous with wife. Aug 6, 2017 at 14:55
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    -1 Your statement Mrs. can't be used similarly, e.g. I think Mrs.' order is ready. (incorrect) is way to prescriptive for me to not DV it. Aug 6, 2017 at 14:59
  • @Clare - I didn't even understand that comment. Are you reading my answer correctly? If you think that "I think Mrs.' order is ready." is correct, we disagree. I'm not going to change it to remove a downvote. Aug 6, 2017 at 15:01
  • @Clare too not to! Aug 6, 2017 at 15:11

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