Being Swedish I am not sure about this: I want to write "Tess is not here" abbreviated. Do I write "Tess's not here" or "Tess' not here"?

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    I would say "Tess isn't here". May 14 at 9:58
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    The abbreviated element Tess's sounds exactly the same as Tess is anyway (compare Tess's brother's not here), so even though no-one would normally write it (or think that was what they were saying), Tess's not here is indistinguishable from Tess is not here. But it's still true that most of us would say Tess isn't here in most contexts. With the possessive form of a name ending in 's', the rule is you write the 's' after the apostrophe if you enunciate it. Some people do, and some don't, in, say, St James'[s] Park. You'd always enunciate Tess's. May 14 at 10:40
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    @FF An awkward exception that I believe still exists is that St Thomas' Hospital (London) is spelled with a bare apostrophe but still pronounced using three syllables. Also confusing is the fact that St James's Park, St James' Park and St James Park are three (there may also be others) different venues. May 14 at 10:47
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    Informally, "Tess's not here" is, I'd argue, quite commonly heard (the name may of course vary), and, I'd also argue, is distinct from the un-destressed "Tess is not here". The latter is more formal, but would usually be reserved for emphasis. // The ongoing argument about the better way to show Saxon genitives of nouns ending in s or z surely doesn't extend to more obvious omissions (though fo'c's'le is an oddity). "Tess is" contracts logically to "Tess's". May 14 at 11:04
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    Are we speaking about abbreviation or about contraction?
    – fev
    May 14 at 11:29

2 Answers 2


I guess you want to use a contraction. That would be an apostrophe followed by s at the end of the word, or name, in this case: "Tess's going to the store." But there's the risk that the word will be read as a possessive form ("John's going to the store was a mistake."). Contractions are to be avoided if they can be easily misread. Adding "'s" can stand for "__ is" or "__ has", or as a possessive, so it's risky in three ways.


I think the "not" in your sentence is confusing things. If you want the most natural contraction of "Tess is not here" then Kate's "Tess isn't here" is absolutely correct.

If you want to contract "Tess is here" then (in written English) "Tess's" is correct, but it wouldn't seem natural to do so.

"Tess'" is not correct. Where the subject ends with "s" this is correct for the possesive case but not for the contraction of "subject is".

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