Where did this anomaly come from? Is it really considered proper form? Are there any other names that get the same bizarre treatment?
I use the Government Printing Office Style Manual as a reference. It covers this quirk of possessives. The basic rule is as you stated, but, as with much of English grammar, there is an exception. The exception is that Biblical and ancient names of two or more syllables that end in 's' form possessives by adding only the apostrophe. Thus, Jesus', Achilles', and so on.
All other 's' words form the possessive by adding apostrophe + s. The idea of just adding an apostrophe to a word ending in 's' is used by some, and some style manuals may allow it, but it is certainly not accepted by all. PM's usage may fly in Canada, but not with the GPO or Associated Press - and since they publish fairly often, I would say they represent modern practice.
The Associated Press Style Manual actually waffles on that. It says use apostrophe + s for all common nouns, but only apostrophe for proper nouns.
You are in error. When "S" is the last letter we just add an apostrophe.
There is no such rule.
In English, the genitive form of nouns can be shown either by the use of "of" (the Crown of England) or by an apostrophe and s. But, if a word already ends in s, there is no need to add another s.
Hence plurals -- most of which in English are indicated by the letter s being appended to the noun -- do not take another s to show possession.
And if a singular noun ends in s, then no second s should be added. People who do are over-regularizing -- a grammatical mistake.
Strunk is simply wrong. It was written in 1918, nearly 100 years ago, and is rather out of date on many points. It has achieved canonical status with English teachers, but is not the final word on grammar, because there is no final word on grammar. What most english speakers decide is clear is what is grammatical, and that consensus changes.
Modern usage is NOT to add another s. English grammar is constantly evolving. For example, it was not possible in Shakepeare's day to say: "England's Queen's crown", one had to say and write "The Queen's crown of England."
"The Jones' car" is perfectly clear, and it is ungrammatical to say "the Jones's car" -- although one hears it often enough.
Similarly, it is clear to say "Francis' bike" (the bike of Francis); "Francis's" is far too sibilant, and will likely lead to you spitting on the person with whom you are speaking.
I have seen "Jesus's" written, and I write it myself. There are variations in the rule for when to leave off the possessive "s", but the rule I follow is that when a word of 3 syllables or longer ends in s, you just put the apostrophe for the possessive, unless that makes the sentence sound ambiguous.
For instance, say you're writing about the characters in Shakespeare's play Hamlet. You don't write about Laertes's speech, you write Laertes' speech. However, if you're writing about the villainy of Claudius, you write Claudius's villainy rather than Claudius' villainy, because the latter sounds very similar to Claudia's (even though there's no character called Claudia in Hamlet).
I'd really appreciate correction on this if I'm out of date or something--anyone else?
I suspect the way people write/say Jesus' instead of Jesus's is a bit like the way they say they "laid" down for a rest when they really LAY down...
Oh, thanks, P.M--but can you give some examples to make it clearer? And where are you from (i.e. is it American or British English)?
Do Strunk & White give any examples for longer words? The problem with English grammar is that there are always further, increasingly obscure variations no matter how deep you go. So a general guide on grammar won't tell you everything, because they can't.
In addition to the above evidence of rules, it just rolls off your tongue to say plural Jesus'.
Jesus's sounds like bizarre treatment!
The rule of adding an 's for changing a word to its possessive form though is right, but when a word ends with an s, we do not add an extra 's to make it possessive. Example, for making Jesus to its possessive form we just add an apostrophe, i.e. Jesus' , and not Jesus's. So there is no need to add an extra s to make it possessive we can also do it by adding just an apostrophe.
One example that can be made possessive by the treatment described above is
The surname "Williams" (P.F.- Sunita Williams' space travel)
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