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From my understanding:

" Princess " is the singular form

" Princess' " is the possessive form pronounced with an -es in the end

" Princesses " is the plural form which is pronounced in a similar manner

If I refer to the doll of a princess, it should be "Princess' Doll"(?)

But what if there were many princesses having dolls? Would I say "Princesses' Dolls?" (As Princess-is-is)? Or would the second "es" be silent?

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  • @DecapitatedSoul Thank you for the quick reply! Is there a specific rule for this? Would you say " Parents' " as "Parents-es" or just "Parent's"?
    – Gummy
    Apr 30, 2020 at 11:00
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    I would use princess's doll in the singular. Parents' is pronounced without an extra syllable. Apr 30, 2020 at 11:24
  • Does this answer your question? What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in "‑s"? Although I seem to remember liking an answer by @tchrist somewhere here a lot better. There remain anomalies, but these are rare and arcane; basic research is missing here. For the singular possessive, like Kate I'd use 'princess's doll' to reflect the three syllables I'd use (eg for Princess Anne's doll). Apr 30, 2020 at 11:37

1 Answer 1

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An apostrophe isn't used in place of an s if the s sound is spoken. If you hear an s sound (either unvoiced or voiced) at the end, write an s after the apostrophe.

So, the singular possessive is princess's, the plural nominative is princesses, and the plural possessive is princesses'. All of these are pronounced exactly the same way.

Most nouns ending in an s sound behave this way. For example, the forms for the word bass (the musical instrument) are bass's, basses and basses', all pronounced exactly the same way.

However, irregular plurals form their possessive the same way as singular nouns. For example, the possessives of children and mice are children's and mice's, not children' and mice'.

There's also at least one irregular singular possessive: the possessive of the name Jesus is usually taken to be Jesus' (which is pronounced like Jesus, not like Jesus's) instead of Jesus's.

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  • If talking about the fish, the simple plural is bass, whereas when talking about two or more species it is basses. Or so I've always thought; I'm not a fisherman, though I am a bassist. +1 though, good answer.
    – nnnnnn
    Apr 30, 2020 at 12:40
  • Your first statement is only commonly the case. Some styles, although not many, still use only an apostrophe. Also, even if the possessive of a noun ending with an s has only an apostrophe, that doesn't mean it's always pronounced like it's spelled. For example, I've often heard people pronounce Jesus' (when it's spelled that way) as Jesus's. Apr 30, 2020 at 12:54
  • @nnnnnn Whoops, I forgot that fish are special! Apr 30, 2020 at 17:18
  • What about 'my boss's car'? I've always been pronouncing it 'my bossiz ca:(r)'. Apr 30, 2020 at 17:37
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    @DecapitatedSoul Yep, that pronunciation looks right. Apr 30, 2020 at 19:20

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