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Is possession for nouns that end in x indicated by a quotation mark alone or is the quotation mark accompanied by an s?
July 13, 2009 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Genuinely dumb question to waste on the brain trust here but: when nouns end in x, do you indicate possession with just a quotation mark or do you need to include the s?

Examples of proper use:
-noun that ends without an s-'s
-noun that ends in s-'s

Use in question:
-noun that ends in x-'s

Inspired by a niggling sensation from here.

Perhaps someone waxing brainy on the topic might pose the question of whether possession is auditory, visual or both.

I'd bet dollars to dimes this has been asked before but I couldn't find it.
posted by christhelongtimelurker to Writing & Language (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Google for the win.

"However, many non-English words that end with a silent "s" or "x" will form their possessives with only an apostrophe."

But it's more complicated than that.
posted by disillusioned at 10:45 PM on July 13, 2009


I'm a firm believer in using the 's in every case. Yes, including Jesus's and James's.

Thanks to this unshakable style choice, The X question is moot. Of course you add the S.
posted by rokusan at 10:46 PM on July 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Different people say different things according to Wikipedia. So no, you don't have another rule to add to your grammar nazi toolbox.
posted by bigmusic at 10:47 PM on July 13, 2009


With the s. I don't think I've ever seen, for example, "Fox' new movie" instead of "Fox's new movie". This is especially true if you obey the version of the possessive-spelling rule that says to follow the pronunciation -- I'd definitely say /foksəz nu muvi/ and not /foks nu muvi/.
posted by The Tensor at 10:49 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The punctuation mark you are referring to is not a quotation mark but an apostrophe.
posted by inconsequentialist at 10:49 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the 14th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, the relevant entry is at 6.24:
The general rule for the possesive of nouns covers most proper nouns, including most names ending in sibilants (but see exceptions in 6.26-27 and alternatives in 6.30)
The manual provides "Marx's" as the one example most analogous to "Netflix's", which would not qualify as an exception as described above. So it looks like "Netflix's" is the way to go, at least according to this style guide.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 PM on July 13, 2009


I'm assuming that "Netflix" is considered a proper noun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:58 PM on July 13, 2009


I was always taught that you put 's even if the noun ends in an s, and that it is less formal if you do stuff like James'. Personally, I would put the 's regardless of formality, so it's not confusing whether the noun is plural or singular.

I have never seen a noun that ends with x use just an apostrophe. Always x's.
posted by Nattie at 11:01 PM on July 13, 2009


There appears to be consensus here but I'm not sold one way or the other. Sway me if you disagree with the general sentiments of the consensus, I'll check the thread in the morning and I'm off to bed.

Much Love to the Brain Trust,
ctltl
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 12:10 AM on July 14, 2009


I guess I was too coy with my obtuse little italicism above: it's a style choice.

This is why people have been and will keep citing style guides that support one view or another. You might get a majority-rules sort of feel eventually, but you'll never get an absolute "correct" here.

As long as you're consistent throughout your work, use whichever way you fancy. Me, I'm a fan of apostrophe-s on absolutely every case. The dangling apostrophe is also popular on at least some S-words from some writers. I've seen the dangler on X words a few times, but it's a pretty rare use, so if you use it, be aware that you're making a very odd choice, and do so deliberately.

It's rather like choosing to use &c instead of etc.... which I have affection for even though I know it's very uncommon.
posted by rokusan at 12:46 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


You might get a majority-rules sort of feel eventually, but you'll never get an absolute "correct" here.

What is this feel-good crap? Possessive nouns do not ever end in a single apostrophe. Sorry. It is simply incorrect, always, and forever.

It's rather like choosing to use &c instead of etc

No. It's not anything like that at all. If you look closely at the ampersand character, you'll note that it's comprised of an 'E' and a 'T' for the Latin word for and: et. Et cetera. Thus & + c.

It is not a style thang. Fucking kids.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:56 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is not a style thang.

Yes, it really is. Respected style guides disagree on this all over the board, so what would you call it, exactly? Hart's Rules, for example, and Strunk & White specifically allow the dangling apostrophe in many examples.

If you read above, you'll see that while I am a fan of the mandatory apostrophe-S, I'm also pointing out that it's not a universal rule by any means. If you really think it is, keep checking sources. You'll see the problem soon.

I mean, for goodness' sake, there are always exceptions. ;)
posted by rokusan at 3:18 AM on July 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


No. It's not anything like that at all. If you look closely at the ampersand character, you'll note that it's comprised of an 'E' and a 'T'

Yes, exactly. So there's "etc." and "&c."

But if "style" doesn't exist, which of those two forms is "correct", then?

Same deal here with the OP's question.
posted by rokusan at 3:37 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do whichever you like with the possessive, but please please please do NOT use apostrophes to form plurals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
posted by nax at 4:42 AM on July 14, 2009


And please never consider the possesive pronoun "its" to be covered by this rule:
its' is not English.
posted by Rash at 4:54 AM on July 14, 2009


Only time I ever use a dangling apostrophe for possessive is on plurals ending in s. Everything else gets 's.
posted by flabdablet at 5:25 AM on July 14, 2009


Also, this looks like pretty sensible advice to me. Especially the part about not obsessing about this. Don't waste your grammar nazi on the small stuff - there are plenty of grocers' apostrophes that better deserve its attention.
posted by flabdablet at 5:36 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


rokusan is right, Civil_Disobedient doesn't know what he's talking about. It is a matter of style. That said, this is a special case; the reason "Netflix's" looks weird is that Netflix is a cutesy way of writing "Netflicks," which would be a plural, so its possessive would not take an -s. By rewriting it as Netflix, they have created a bastard singularized plural form, so naturally it causes cognitive dissonance in our mental style manual. Do it whichever way looks best to you, and tell anyone who doesn't like your choice to complain to Netflix.
posted by languagehat at 6:37 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, what 'hat said.

I myself abominate the "James' dog" or "Mrs. Jones' teapot" thing, but if I'm working for a publisher whose style sheet says to do that, I will do that. Shuddering all the while.

But I have never seen a style sheet that said "Fox' new film" and I actually don't see how that could be anything but flat-out wrong.

Obviously, "Fox's new film will be available through Netflix's website" is correct.

But, yeah, it seems wrong because we parse "Netflix" as "Netflicks".

As for foreign words, it's The Beaux's Stratagem, not The Beaux' Stratagem, so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you really think it is, keep checking sources. You'll see the problem soon.

(smacks hand on forehead)

Uh, I meant to add, except for plurals. You get on the high horse, you fall off the high horse. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:32 AM on July 14, 2009


Correctness in grammar proscriptions is always bound by what style guide you take to be an authority. If you're writing for your own amusement, you can go by whatever rules you like. If you're writing an assignment or for publication, go by whatever manual is required. If in doubt, ask.

I think always going with the apostrophe+s makes more sense and is, for whatever reason, more aesthetically pleasing (perhaps because making sense is, itself, aesthetically pleasing). My first name is James, so I have a dog in this fight.
posted by wheat at 11:09 AM on July 14, 2009


Always an apostrophe. It looks neater that way too and is no less formal. As a person with a last name ending in Z, it looks sloppy to me to see the additional s.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:27 AM on July 14, 2009


Uh, I meant to add, except for plurals. You get on the high horse, you fall off the high horse.

Sadly, you're still hung up on some other stirrups. :)

It's still a style choice, and the OP will be "correct" in using whichever form fits his chosen style, as long as he (a) is conscious of how common/rare his choice is (this thread should give him a feeling for that) and (b) is consistent in his application of that style.

Languagehat's dodge of the distracting side-arguments and incision into the inherent hackiness of the word "NetFlix" is also a plus point to consider. CorpWords™ are annoying to deal with at the best of times.

We can argue about Lego vs. Legos now, if you like. I'm curious on Justice Sotomayer's stance on that one, myself.
posted by rokusan at 5:13 PM on July 14, 2009


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