To S or not to S…

To S or Not To S…

04-18-13

This is an important question in my writer’s life right now.  You see, I have two characters with names that end in S in my current work.  And there’s a lot of controversy about how to handle the possessive for each of them.

And before you ask why I just don’t change their names, they’ve been around for the first four books in the series – too late!

The heroine is named Tess.  Possessive is easy – spelled Tess’s and read aloud the same way.

Her hero is Powers, and here’s where the fun starts.  Powers’s???  Powers’???  The possessive is read with only one S sound on the end no matter what.  But when written, there are differences of opinion.  So I consulted the experts.

Since The Chicago Manual of Style is the bible we’re supposed to use in our fiction world, that’s where I began.  The 16th edition is very clear – despite the fact that we read the possessive Powers with only one S sound on the end, we write it with too.

Then I talked to some editors, and everyone had at least one opinion, and sometimes two.  And no consensus.  If the S sound is preceded by a vowel sound, use apostrophe S; otherwise, no additional S is needed, only the apostrophe.

Or, in all cases, use the apostrophe S, even if it sounds funny when read.  Readers won’t notice.  (Wanna bet on that?)

OR – ALWAYS follow the style guide, even when it leads to stilted and uncomfortable word flow.  (WHAT???)

For now, I’m still undecided, and I have until Monday to make up my mind.  To S or not to S.  Anyone want to weigh in on this?  Help me, readers!

Yvonne