1 min

Tt post jan 11 2016 b


It's a style issue and not a hard rule. My style version would be incorrect if you were my editor, and I did not follow your style recommendations.

The AP style manual would agree with you and use Burris'.

The book titled When Words Collide - A Media Writer's Guide to Grammar and Style would also use Burris'.

I'm unsure about the Chicago style manual, but their Q&A section states with my emphasis added:

Q. When indicating possession of a word that ends in s, is it correct to repeat the s after using an apostrophe? For example, which is correct: “Dickens’ novel” or “Dickens’s novel”?

A. Either is correct, though we prefer the latter. Please consult 7.15–18 for a full discussion of the rules for forming the possessive of proper nouns.

I think that The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation swings both ways.

The rules are lengthy, therefore I prefer the simpler style recommendation that's listed in the little old Strunk & White book called The Elements of Style, which states as the first item on page one:

1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles's friend
Burns's poems
the witch's malice

Which means, Burris's column is also acceptable. In my opinion, the key is to pick a style and use it consistently.

But I also dislike the AP's style recommendation for expressing a short list of items.

Journalists typically write:

"red, white and blue"

No comma before the conjunction. I find that annoying, and it can be confusing.

Rule #2 on page 2 of the Strunk & White book:

2. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

Thus write,

red, white, and blue
gold, silver, or copper
He opened the letter, read it, and made a note of its contents.

Groundhog Day is near. The Elements of Style makes a nice stocking stuffer.

#writing #media

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