I have two questions on using apostrophe:

  1. Why an apostrophe has been used here after "s" in "The 69’ers’ drummer, Tom Callaghan" while the same thing does not happen after "s" in the "Beatles" in the following sentence? The band was playing the old Beatles songs. (Not ... the old Beatles' songs.)

  2. Why do they say St. James' Park (in Newcastle) but St. James's Park (in London)?!


69'ers' drummer

because the drummer is part of the Aussie band (possessive)

St James's Park (London)

because it was name after St James the Less (possessive)

St James' Park (Newcastle)

the difference in spelling might be guessed to be due to

  • Geordies didn't want a park with the same name as one in London
  • The stadium took the name of the area which used "James"
  • Geordies don't know how to spell

There is an extensive description of the conundrum here.
Note that there was a time when the stadium was spelled "St James's Park".


in your example is being used as an adjective same as in

United Airlines seating chart

It is "a Beatles song" meaning

The song is (sung) by the Beatles

but it would be "the Beatles' contract" with their record company that got it produced.

  • And in "the old Beatles songs" there's no sense of possession? So who the songs belong to?!
    – M.N
    Dec 13 '16 at 23:54
  • 2
    I would say that in "the old Beatles songs", "Beatles" is functioning as a proper adjective.
    – Dr. Funk
    Dec 14 '16 at 0:27
  • 1
    @Dr.Funk and Peter are on the money here. Also, James' v. James's is a merely a matter of preference. You'll see it both ways everywhere. It's not even geographic. The only time I've seen it more is with ancient names (like Socrates'), but even then, I have seen it the other way (Socrates's), too.
    – user32753
    Dec 19 '16 at 18:16
  • It’s simpler than that and more complex… “69'ers’ drummer” is possessive, yes; the drummer belongs to the band. Please be aware that “69'ers’” is a terrible example because it’s such an unusual phrase. It’s almost impossible to justify using two appostrophes like that and even without the second, possessive apostrophe it would be difficult to show that the first followed a rule, rather than simply being common misuse. “… Beatles songs” isn’t an adjective. Like “United Airlines seating” it’s simply a mistake, as is the idea that “a Beatles song" could mean “one sung by the Beatles." Apr 3 '18 at 22:58
  • “St James' / James's Park” raises a very different question and please note, it needs its apostrophe either way. Most people don’t care but many say a word which already ends with a sounded double “ess” should not be given a third by a possessive apostrophe. Even whether “James” ends with a double “ess” isn’t as clear as it seems, let alone how many “esses” are sounded in “James’s”. Apr 3 '18 at 23:00

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