One of my readers has asked me how to successfully sort out plurals and possessives for words ending with the letter s. Stupendous idea! Let’s see if we can solve through storytelling all the different situations where s can cross us.
Once upon a time in another star system, there lived two clone siblings named Silas and Simon Sassafras.
Pluralizing Family Names
Neighbours had no idea what to do with “those Sassafrases” because they couldn’t tell the two of them apart.
When you are referring to more than one family member with a last name that ends in s, you add -es.
Showing Possession for a Singular Word
Silas’s smile was exactly the same as Simon’s.
Simon’s laugh was exactly the same as Silas’s.
If a word is singular, you add apostrophe s to the end of the word to indicate possession, even when the word ends with an s (Silas’s smile, Silas’s laugh).
Note: In the past, exceptions have been made for names that were considered special (like Jesus). In these rare cases, the apostrophe was used without an s (Jesus’). However, today’s trend (which is simple) is to always use apostrophe s for singular words.
Showing Possession for a Plural Word
The clone siblings’ eerie sameness was getting on everyone’s nerves. (Even if they were both very friendly.)
If a word is plural and ends in s, you add an apostrophe at the end without an s (siblings’).
Showing Possession For a Pair of People
Silas and Simon’s stubborn tendency to stump their neighbours would soon be over.
When you are referring to something that belongs to both people in a pair (tendency), you add an apostrophe s at the end of the second name.
In desperation, the community forced Silas and Simon to go to a barber shop and get different haircuts.
Silas’s hair was now short.
Simon’s hair was now not so short.
Silas’s and Simon’s hairstyles were so different that they could be seen as completely separate beings. The neighbours sighed in satisfaction as Silas and Simon sobbed.
When both people in a pair own different kinds of the same thing (like different hairstyles), then you need to put an apostrophe s at the end of both names.
The next morning, everyone in the neighbourhood woke up to find a clone sleeping next to them. Mass panic ensued. When they tried to get haircuts, their hair grew back. When they put on different clothes, the clothes instantly changed to become the same. They all ran to the Sassafrases’ house, but no one was home.
They later found out that Silas and Simon had left on a spaceship to become famous intergalactic movie stars who paid off all their new neighbours’ mortgages.
Bonus Word: Separate
Separate (like definitely) is one of those super tricky words to spell. Here’s a quick tip to help you remember that separate has a “par” in the middle (instead of a “per“): When you separate things, they are now apart.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I will taunt the troublesome letter T…
© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015