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Friday, March 8, 2013

Is it "Charles's book"? Should that be "Charles' book"?

I prefer "Charles's book". So do Strunk and White.

And so does Poynter guru Roy Peter Clark, whose post on the subject I re-discovered when I was going through old e-mails.

Clark is a superlative journalist who writes with felicity and fluency. And he's extremely well-read to boot. Read the post I'm referring to, as well as his other columns on the Poynter website, to better appreciate what I'm talking about.

But to return to "Charles's book" vs "Charles' book". Here's an excerpt from Clark's post:

Professor Strunk tells us to add apostrophe plus s no matter the final consonant in the noun and cites as examples “Charles’s friend” and “Burns’s poems.”

This makes great sense to me because it echoes the way we would speak the word aloud. So it puzzles me that the “Associated Press Stylebook,” an influential work for journalists, argues that a simple apostrophe suffices after proper nouns ending in s, as in Agnes’ book and Jules’ seat. I don’t know about you, but when I read those aloud, the missing s hurts my ears, and on the page it hurts my eyes. I would say Agnes’s book and Jules’s seat.

Read the post in its entirety here and you will no longer wonder about the so-called extra s in Bridget Jones's Diary.

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