There’s a lot of debate on how to spell the possessive form of singular nouns – with an apostrophe ‘s’ or with just the apostrophe? Well, according to the specific style guide you follow, they can both be correct. In this article, we’ll illustrate this point and explain how to choose between Chris’s or Chris’.
Is It Chris’ or Chris’s?
Many people overcomplicate the rules of plural possessive of nouns ending in -S. Take Chris for example. In reality, you can use both Chris’ or Chris’s in your writing. The rules are simple.
- Chris’ – If you are following the Associated Press stylebook (AP Style) , add just an apostrophe to plural nouns ending in -S. (i.e. Chris’ car or Chris’ dog)
- Chris’s – If you are following the Chicago Manual of Style , add an apostrophe -S. (i.e. Chris’s house). Used more frequently in British English.
If you’re going to be a stickler for rules, you need to know the rules of plural possessives. The basic rule is that if you have more than one of something, you need to add an apostrophe s to the end of the word. But the -S is optional depending on which style guides you choose to follow.
Takeaway: Both Chris’ and Chris’s are grammatically correct.
When To Use Chris’
If your writing assignment follows the rule of the Associated Press Stylebook, write Chris’ to show plural possession.
- For example: “I am going to catch a ride in Chris’ car.”
When I teach my 7th-grade students…we often teach them that Chris’ is the correct way to write this proper noun. Adding only the apostrophe is the most common way to show possession for proper nouns ending in -S.
When To Use Chris’s
If you follow the teaching of British English or the Chicago Manual of Style then write Chris’s.
- For example: “I can’t stand hanging out at Chris’s house.”
The truth is…many people don’t like how Chris’s looks in their writing. The back-to-back -S is not common and can seem awkward. However, this possessive case is becoming more and more popular in American English.
There are several apostrophe rules that will come in handy for your writing.
- Show possession – As in “the cat’s toys” or “the students ‘ID cards.” In these cases, the apostrophe goes before the “s” if the noun is singular (as in “cat”) and after the “s” if the noun is plural (as in “students”).
- Omit letters – Think of contractions like “don’t” or possessive pronouns like “it’s” (which is short for “it is” or “it has”). The apostrophe is used to show that there is a missing letter
- Indicate plurals – Depending on the specific style guide you follow, apostrophes can be used to create the plurals of letters, numbers, and symbols ONLY. (Two B’s = two letters that are both B)
Examples of Possessive Nouns
- The cats’ toys were spread out all over the room. (The toys belong to more than one cat.)
- Steve’s car needs to be washed. (The car belongs to Steve.)
- The girls‘ shoes were left in the hallway. (The shoes belong to more than one girl.)
- We went to the Joneses’ house for dinner. (The house belongs to the Joneses.)
- Loyola University’s campus is in Chicago. (The campus belongs to Loyola University.)
- Santa Claus’s sleigh is full of presents. (The sleigh belongs to Santa Claus.)
- John and Mary’s wedding will be next month. (The wedding belongs to John and Mary.)
Follow The Rules Of Your Style Book
The tricky part of grammar is that there is not a single rule set to follow. In fact, there are several different style guides that have widespread adoption.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Style)
- The Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style)
- The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago Style)
- MLA Handbook (MLA Style)
In reality, different grammar stylebooks simply have different guidelines. So, if you’re ever unsure which rule to follow, just consult your stylebook. In formal writing, there is usually a specific style guide to follow depending on the type of writing. For informal writing, you have more flexibility.
Rules For Singular Nouns
Unlike plural nouns, singular nouns represent one thing. That one thing could be
- A person
- A place
- A thing
To make a singular noun possessive, you usually add an apostrophe and an “s.” For a singular noun ending in -S, you can just add an apostrophe after the “s” to show possession. Both plural and singular nouns ending in -S follow the same rules!
When it comes to showing the possessive form of proper nouns ending in -S…both “‘s” and just the apostrophe are correct. Therefore, you could write “Chris’s book” and “Chris’ book” depending on your preferred style manuals.
The most popular way to pluralize the name Chris is Chris’. This follows AP Style. However, technically speaking both Chris’ and Chris’s is proper grammar in the English language. For example, you could say “I am going to Chris’ house” or “I am going to Chris’s house”. Adding an apostrophe -s is more popular in British English.
Commentaries: Neither James birthday nor James birthday were correctly written. Let me know. Choose the version that fits your pronunciation. Using James’s when he speaks Jamesisiz but using James’s when speaking Jamesis.
If you are going to follow AP style, then you should use Chris’ (i.e. “I am Chris’ brother”). In this case, you add only an apostrophe. However, if you are going to follow the Chicago Manual of style, Microsoft Manual, or other style guides, you should uses Chris’s.
To show possession for a name ending in -S, you should chose one of two options. Add an apostrophe -s (‘s) or just the apostrophe. For example, you could say “the Williams’s cat” or “the Williams’ cat”.
To indicate the possessive form of a plural noun you should add -es. So if you are trying to show that the Harris family (more than one person) owns something, you would follow this rule. If it was just a singular noun, you would add an apostrophe. For example, “Sam Harris’ views on politics do not align with my own.”
The Bottom Line
Now you know the difference between Chris’ & Chris’s. The rules of possessive plural nouns may seem tricky at first, but they can be easily mastered with some practice. Just pay close attention to which style guide you are following. Use these rules in your writing and avoid making any silly grammar mistakes!