This page gives the following examples of correct punctuation showing possession for singular nouns ending in -s:

  • Thomas's job
  • the bus's arrival
  • James's fiancée
  • Steve Davis's victory


  • Socrates' philosophy
  • Saint Saens' music
  • Ulysses' companions
  • Aristophanes' plays

The page says: "a name ending in s takes only an apostrophe if the possessive form is not pronounced with an extra s."

As a learner of English, how do I know whether a particular name (say, Alexis or Andres) should be written (and said) with the extra s?

  • Alexis and Andres don't have an extra s. They have one s.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


There is no hard and fast rule. But in general, foreign or ancient names (Socrates, Jesus, Ulysses...) tend to be written and spoken without an extra "s" or "iz".. Many style guides recommend that common nouns always do have the apostrophe-s, and modern names usually do.

There are plenty of exceptions - for example when the same name is used for both ancient and modern people. You will see "St James's (park)" and "St James' (park)" and "St James (park)" for example.

Some modern individuals prefer a particular way of writing (personally I prefer "James's" when using my name.) As there is individual variation, you are pretty much free to decide if you think "Alexis-iz" sounds good to you.

However, the "No s for ancients" rule is a workable rule of thumb.

  • Yup. Other than linguists who have researched the topic, I doubt any native speaker would give you a clear answer that wasn't quoted from somewhere else.
    – gotube
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 21:41
  • I'm not sure whether you mean "Common nouns always do have the apostrophe-s" as advice or as a general statement, but that practice is not universal. (E.g., the U.S. GPO style manual recommends boss', hostess', etc.) Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 0:58
  • Do Americans really say "boss' daughter" as "boss daughter" and not "boss-iz daughter"?
    – James K
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 6:07
  • @JamesK No, they don't. I think Marc's comment was only about spelling.
    – gotube
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 9:38
  • Do native speakers also say "St. James('s) park" differently? Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 9:41

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