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Grammar Complaint: Kansas's is just plain awful

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Okay, I was absolutely raised that a proper noun ending in s was made possessive by adding an apostrophe only:

 

People of Kansas = Kansas' people.

 

We have a last name ending in s, so we have used this in practice.  DD arguing about it lead to me to Google, to discover that it is considered stylistic and that Kansas's can be correct.

 

Ugh.  Seriously?  Kansas-es-es-es.... That's what it sounds like to me.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones used to say "incidentses" to refer to more than one incident, and people made a joke out of it.. incidents-es-es....  It think of that every time someone adds an 's to a proper noun like that.

 

This is just a vent I suppose.  I am also emotionally attached to the Oxford comma.  I can't handle all this change, people!  :glare:

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I am an Oxford comma gal, too. While grammar rules allow for widely recognized proper names ending in s to be made possessive with an 's, I can't bring myself to add anything past the apostrophe.

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Ha! I thought you were going to complain about people in Kansas and their poor use of grammar. Not the possessive form of Kansas.

 

FWIW, I use Kansas'. Kansas's looks wrong, though my dd's grammar book says you can use either. 

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I think I'd write Kansas's because, while I admit it looks ugly in print, it mirrors how I would speak.

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though truthfully I would probably avoid the word entirely. Instead of saying, for example, Kansas's governor I would likely choose to say the governor of Kansas.

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though truthfully I would probably avoid the word entirely. Instead of saying, for example, Kansas's governor I would likely choose to say the governor of Kansas.

 

This is my favorite editing rule: When in doubt, recast the sentence!

 

And they will have to pry the Oxford comma out of my cold, dead hands. 

Edited by ILiveInFlipFlops
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I always add an 's to make a singular noun possessive regardless of ending letter. That is the way I was taught to do or in elementary school. It was only after being on these boards that I learned it is a correct stylistic choice to just add an apostrophe for a word ending in s.

 

I am the opposite of you.

Edited by Jyhwkmama
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...it is one of the main benefits of English.

 

I can never remember flyer vs flier so the paper version is always a brochure.

 

Yes forgot to quote from above. Just recast the sentence.

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This is my favorite editing rule: When in doubt, recast the sentence!

 

And they will have to pry the Oxford comma out of my cold, dead hands.

That's my secret trick when the grammar and punctuation gives me issues :o

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I get to writes Charles's and Lewis's because those are two of my kids' names. Still awkward whenever I do it, but I'm happy that they're learning how to write their name correctly in plural form.

 

Semi related: I have friends who own a business (successfully supports their family and a few employees) and recently noticed that prominently displayed on all sorts of media including their PRODUCT PACKAGING is their last name like this:

 

Love (or something),

The Lastname's

 

The wife who designed it is a college grad.

 

I feel awful being the one to saysomething, but I know I should. I did want to double check with you all before I did and not make a fool of myself though. OP, hope you don't mind?

Edited by ifIonlyhadabrain
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I always add an 's to make a singular noun possessive regardless of ending letter. That is the way I was taught to do or in elementary school. It was only after being on these boards that I learned it is a correct stylistic choice to just add an apostrophe for a word ending in s.

 

I am the opposite of you.

This is also the way all my kids' grammar books have taught: Rod and Staff, Growing with Grammar, Hake/Saxon.

 

It sounds like that's not the only correct way though? Now I'm confused. :P

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I get to writes Charles's and Lewis's because those are two of my kids' names. Still awkward whenever I do it, but I'm happy that they're learning how to write their name correctly in plural form.

 

You mean possessive.

 

It sounds like that's not the only correct way though? Now I'm confused. :p

 

No, it's not the only widely accepted way. There are at least three or four competing styles, though the two predominant ones seem to be "bare apostrophe after an s, always" and "apostrophe-s, always".

 

The important thing is to pick a style and stick with it. So long as you always do it the same way, you're in the clear. (Exception: When you have to conform to a particular stylebook. Then you use their method consistently when writing to that style. Either way, you never mix and match within a single essay or letter or whatever.)

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Okay, I was absolutely raised that a proper noun ending in s was made possessive by adding an apostrophe only:

 

People of Kansas = Kansas' people.

 

We have a last name ending in s, so we have used this in practice.  DD arguing about it lead to me to Google, to discover that it is considered stylistic and that Kansas's can be correct.

 

Ugh.  Seriously?  Kansas-es-es-es.... That's what it sounds like to me.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones used to say "incidentses" to refer to more than one incident, and people made a joke out of it.. incidents-es-es....  It think of that every time someone adds an 's to a proper noun like that.

 

This is just a vent I suppose.  I am also emotionally attached to the Oxford comma.  I can't handle all this change, people!  :glare:

 

It's more complicated than that.

 

Fred Jones: singular

Fred Jones' dog: singular possessive

The Joneses: plural

The Joneses' house: plural possessive

 

Both ABeka's and Rod and Staff's handbooks say that the possessive is made with 's, including words that end with s: Burns's poetry, Charles's theory. ABeka's handbook allows exceptions for ancient proper names ending in -es, the name Jesus, and expressions such as "for conscience' sake." Rod and Staff says, "Some singular nouns which end in s are difficult to pronounce if another s is added to form the possessive. In this case the apostrophe is added after the word without another s." It goes on to say that when a *plural* noun ends in s, only an apostrophe is added (e.g. boys').

 

*I* would say "kansases" and write "Kansas's," because that's how I say it. Three syllables.

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I was taught in school to use apostrophe then s for all singular possessive nouns including those ending with s. To me it sounds correct with the s too. It is not pronounced like Kansas eseses just Kansases ;) It does not sound right to not have the apostrophe s at the end. It is taught that way in lots of programs.

 

I thought this post was going to be about visiting or moving to Kansas and thinking they are not speaking in a grammatically correct manner.

Edited by MistyMountain
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It's more complicated than that.

 

Fred Jones: singular

Fred Jones' dog: singular possessive

The Joneses: plural

The Joneses' house: plural possessive

 

 

I would do the following: 

Fred Jones: singular

Fred Jones' dog: singular possessive

The Joneses: plural

The Jones' house: singular possessive because there is one Jones family living there. 

 

We have a Williams family in our neighborhood. I would say the following, because this is how they themselves do it: 

Fred Williams: singular

Fred Williams' dog: singular possessive

The Williams: plural

The Williams' house: singular possessive 

 

I would say "The Williams' house" just as it is written. I don't add any extra syllables. Williams-es just doesn't compute with any of us (our family or theirs). 

 

ETA: Oxford comma - I'm not a fan :leaving:

Edited by TechWife
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ETA: Oxford comma - I'm not a fan :leaving:

 

Nor am I.  And I'm happy to stand my ground on it.  There are some occasions when it's necessary, but not normally.  And before I get the cartoon thrown at me, I would cast the first as:

 

We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin

 

and the second as

 

We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin

 

Love my colons and semicolons.

 

http://stephentall.org/2011/09/19/oxford-comma/

 

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Kansas' is obviously the better choice, unless you are Gollum. "Nasty little Kansasess has my presciousssss."

 

omg yes...   :lol:

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This is also the way all my kids' grammar books have taught: Rod and Staff, Growing with Grammar, Hake/Saxon.

 

It sounds like that's not the only correct way though? Now I'm confused. :p

 

The Associated Press (AP) and Modern Language Association (MLA) call for only the apostrophe when the noun ends in S – Kansas’, Arkansas’, boss’, and rowboats’. But Strunk & White and the current Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) prefer the apostrophe S for all uses – Kansas’s, Arkansas’s, boss’s, and rowboats’s. But at least these guides offer a blanket rule. Other guides provide more convoluted advice.

 

The "convoluted advice" involves whether or not the last s is sibilant (yes, had to look that up) and whether or not the following word started with an s.  And the Supreme Court checked in...

 

 In the case of Kansas vs. Marsh, the Legal Times found 7 justices preferred Kansas’ in their opinions, while 2 (Scalia and Souter) used Kansas’s.

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though truthfully I would probably avoid the word entirely. Instead of saying, for example, Kansas's governor I would likely choose to say the governor of Kansas.

I live in Kansas. this is my solution also.
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Nor am I.  And I'm happy to stand my ground on it.  There are some occasions when it's necessary, but not normally.  And before I get the cartoon thrown at me, I would cast the first as:

 

We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin

 

and the second as

 

We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin

 

Love my colons and semicolons.

 

http://stephentall.org/2011/09/19/oxford-comma/

 

 

But if you default to the Oxford comma in all such situations, then there's no reason to ever have to worry about possible confusion. That is the brilliance of the Oxford comma. One never even has to pull out the brain bleach to eliminate the mental image of Stalin in pink tasseled pasties. 

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I'm all kinds of messed up. I prefer the no 's to make nouns ending in s plural, but I still say the extra s even though it's not written.

 

So Arkansas' natural beauty would be pronounced Arkansas-z natural beauty. The apostrophe at the end making you add the z sound to indicate possession.

 

Did I totally make this up or does anyone else do this as well?

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I'm all kinds of messed up. I prefer the no 's to make nouns ending in s plural, but I still say the extra s even though it's not written.

 

So Arkansas' natural beauty would be pronounced Arkansas-z natural beauty. The apostrophe at the end making you add the z sound to indicate possession.

 

Did I totally make this up or does anyone else do this as well?

 

I just tested myself with various words, and I don't add the extra syllable. 

 

Except for boss,  I says boss-es desk.  So maybe I do lean toward that sibilant-thing?

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But if you default to the Oxford comma in all such situations, then there's no reason to ever have to worry about possible confusion. That is the brilliance of the Oxford comma. One never even has to pull out the brain bleach to eliminate the mental image of Stalin in pink tasseled pasties. 

 

But if you default to no Oxford comma in all such situations, then there's no reason to ever have to worry about possible confusion......

 

You have to realise that in the UK the default (at least in my generation) is no Oxford comma.  So it doesn't occur to us to need the brain bleach because the 'and' in a list is seen as including the invisible comma.  It's all a question of what you are used to and therefore what your brain expects.  My brain sees:

 

We invited the strippers, JFK (there's a notional comma here because an 'and' in a list replaces the comma) and Stalin.

 

No pink tasseled pasties.

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Technically speaking, non-animate entities should never have possessive forms.

 

The grammatical possessive absolutely applies to non animate objects. My car has headlights, my chair has legs, my computer has a keyboard; objects that are closely associated with or part of or belong with the first object.

 

My computer's keyboard

My chair's legs

My car's headlights

Our country's president or economy or military

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I'm all kinds of messed up. I prefer the no 's to make nouns ending in s plural, but I still say the extra s even though it's not written.

 

So Arkansas' natural beauty would be pronounced Arkansas-z natural beauty. The apostrophe at the end making you add the z sound to indicate possession.

 

Did I totally make this up or does anyone else do this as well?

Ditto.

 

And I'm team Britain in the Oxford comma match fwiw lol.

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The grammatical possessive absolutely applies to non animate objects. My car has headlights, my chair has legs, my computer has a keyboard; objects that are closely associated with or part of or belong with the first object.

 

My computer's keyboard

My chair's legs

My car's headlights

Our country's president or economy or military

I was taught (back in the Dark Ages), and it is today taught in my kids' Rod and Staff English books, that inanimate objects should not have possessive forms.

 

The keyboard of my computer

The legs of my chair

The headlights of my car

The president of (country)

The economy of (country)

Etc.

 

Admittedly, no one follows this rule anymore. It's pretty much died out.

Edited by Kinsa

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I was taught (back in the Dark Ages), and it is today taught in my kids' Rod and Staff English books, that inanimate objects should not have possessive forms.

 

The keyboard of my computer

The legs of my chair

Etc.

 

Admittedly, no one follows this rule anymore. It's pretty much died out.

This sounds like one of those made-up prescriptive grammar "rules" that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual grammar of a living language.

 

A form in common usage among native speakers cannot be "ungrammatical"; it is the rule-writers who have made an error.

Edited by maize
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Yeah, maize, I feel safe in asserting that this is not and has never been a real rule, it's a zombie rule. That's a technical term.

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Actually, if you do a Google search for "Can inanimate objects have possessive forms" you will see plenty of reputable sources that explain this technicality. But, as I said, it has fallen out of vogue (much like the currently dying out subjunctive case). The spoken practice is different.

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This sounds like one of those made-up prescriptive grammar "rules" that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual grammar of a living language.

 

A form in common usage among native speakers cannot be "ungrammatical"; it is the rule-writers who have made an error.

I've never heard of that rule. Edited by Laura Corin
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Actually, if you do a Google search for "Can inanimate objects have possessive forms" you will see plenty of reputable sources that explain this technicality. But, as I said, it has fallen out of vogue (much like the currently dying out subjunctive case). The spoken practice is different.

 

You can find plenty of reputable sources claiming that you can't use "less" with count nouns and have to use "fewer", but that doesn't change the fact that it was literally invented by some dude you've never heard of (Robert Baker) in 1770. When it comes to linguistic style choices like this, the world is full of apparently reputable sources promulgating nonsense.

 

General rule of thumb: If you have to be explicitly taught that this is a no-no, and you're reasonably certain that it isn't a highly regional usage (which this isn't), then it's a made up zombie rule and you're free to ignore it.

 

GrammarGirl has a nice article up on the history (and inanity) if this particular "rule". Spoiler alert: it was made up less than 300 years ago, and probably never widely adopted among careful speakers and writers. Undoubtedly I can find many, many examples in writing from respected authors and journalists in that timeframe that do not follow this zombie rule.

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I was just coming back to post the same "Grammar Girl" article :D

 

Writers of grammar textbooks have historically been quite fond of saddling unsuspecting students with unnecessary "rules" not deriving from the actual language they purport to teach.

 

Presumably the purpose of such rules is to give the adherents of prescriptive, rule-based grammar more opportunities to look down their noses at the doltish fools who merely use their native language in its natural, organic, and unimproved form ;)

Edited by maize
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Kansas' looks so much better.

 

As for the oxford comma, I will die in a blaze of glory for the rebellion against the empire before I will ever give up my oxford comma. I will not join the dark side of the force.

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I never ever do s's... I recognize it is acceptable, but I do not and will not ever use it.

 

 

 

Same with the serial comma -- trendy or not, no thanks. Even with its trendy name ...'Oxford'.... as if it is English and therefore better? I am actually unde the impression that Americans are much more attached to the serial comma than other English speakers.

Edited by poppy
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I was taught (back in the Dark Ages), and it is today taught in my kids' Rod and Staff English books, that inanimate objects should not have possessive forms.

 

The keyboard of my computer

The legs of my chair

The headlights of my car

The president of (country)

The economy of (country)

Etc.

 

Admittedly, no one follows this rule anymore. It's pretty much died out.

 

Oh, that's interesting!

 

I have always used and taught from material that teach:

 

's for singular possessive regardless of spelling...yes, I taught "walrus's whiskers"   :tongue_smilie:

 

Oxford/serial comma

 

 

I learn so much from you all on this board!

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Same with the serial comma -- trendy or not, no thanks. Even with its trendy name ...'Oxford'.... as if it is English and therefore better? I am actually unde the impression that Americans are much more attached to the serial comma than other English speakers.

 

Yes.  I first heard of it on these boards.  I had never heard the term in the UK and was taught it was unnecessary.

 

Another thing that gets people upset:  there are place names in the UK that lack apostrophes - St Albans and St Andrews (there are probably more).  They definitely mean St Alban's (town).  Every now and then, someone writes in a blog or an article that it's awful that the apostrophe is missing.  Whereas in fact there's a good reason that it's not there.  The St Andrews University library explains this laconically:

 

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/aboutus/faqs/

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Same with the serial comma -- trendy or not, no thanks. Even with its trendy name ...'Oxford'.... as if it is English and therefore better? I am actually unde the impression that Americans are much more attached to the serial comma than other English speakers.

 

Trendy? I learned to write in the early 1970s and I was taught the Oxford comma, but it goes back much further than my ancient self. 

 

 

It's called the Oxford comma because it was used (and popularized) by the Oxford University Press in the late 1800s, early 1900s. I mean, we Americans do love British accents and terminology, but you can't blame this one on us. It's called a Harvard comma as well, for the same reason, but that's not as popular. 

 

Team Oxford Comma! 

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Trendy? I learned to write in the early 1970s and I was taught the Oxford comma, but it goes back much further than my ancient self. 

 

 

It's called the Oxford comma because it was used (and popularized) by the Oxford University Press in the late 1800s, early 1900s. I mean, we Americans do love British accents and terminology, but you can't blame this one on us. It's called a Harvard comma as well, for the same reason, but that's not as popular. 

 

Team Oxford Comma! 

 

 

I meant trendy as in 'popular', not as in 'brand new'..... .  It's expected to declare your undying allegiance to it, among a certain set.  It's the bacon of grammar.  As you'll see in this thread ,several other threads and on a variety of spots in social media.  [<--- See what I did there? With the commas? Was it confusing?  I didn't think so either!!]

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People of Kansas = Kansas' people.

Nope.

 

People of Kansas = Kansans.

Person from Kansas = Kansan.

 

ETA: I grew up on the MoKan border. You really should just ask a Kansan about this. ;)

Edited by Χά�ων
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I would do the following: 

Fred Jones: singular

Fred Jones' dog: singular possessive

The Joneses: plural

The Jones' house: singular possessive because there is one Jones family living there. 

 

We have a Williams family in our neighborhood. I would say the following, because this is how they themselves do it: 

Fred Williams: singular

Fred Williams' dog: singular possessive

The Williams: plural

The Williams' house: singular possessive 

 

I would say "The Williams' house" just as it is written. I don't add any extra syllables. Williams-es just doesn't compute with any of us (our family or theirs). 

 

ETA: Oxford comma - I'm not a fan :leaving:

 

And you'd be grammatically incorrect. Sorry. That the Williamses do not know how to pluralize their own name does not make it correct. :D

 

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And you'd be grammatically incorrect. Sorry. That the Williamses do not know how to pluralize their own name does not make it correct. :D

 

Nah, correctness stems from usage, not the other way around.

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Kansas' is obviously the better choice, unless you are Gollum. "Nasty little Kansasess has my presciousssss."

 

This made me LOL so hard that I woke the baby!

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   [<--- See what I did there? With the commas? Was it confusing?   

 

It was a travesty, and now there's yet another homeless comma in the Oxford Shelter.

 

I hope you're proud of yourself . . . 

Edited by katilac
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