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A question about grammar

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RunningOnMT, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

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    I finally decided to to address something that has been troubling me for a long time, and that is the proper pronounciation of the possessive form of a noun (name), when that name ends in the letter "S".

    It seems that if there is a rule for this, it is being broken all the time, and by most of us. Everytime I run into this situation when I'm speaking, I have a mental battle deciding what is correct.

    Let me give you some examples. If you were to speak this phrase "it is congress' responsibility", would you pronounce it "it is congress-es responsibility" or "it is congress responsibility"? I'm sure most of you would choose the former "it is congress-es responsibility". The latter just doesn't sound right.

    Now normally I would rephrase what I'm saying to avoid this issue, and say "it is the responsibility of congress", but that's beside the point, the other form is also correct. Sometimes you can't so easily rearrange a sentence or phrase in that manner.

    Now, here is another example. When Christians pray, should they say "in Jesus-es name" or "In Jesus' name". I think most of us say it without the additional consonant, the exact opposite choice from the previous example.

    I could go on and on with additional examples, but I think you all know what I mean without me using up needless megabytes. I realize this seems like a rather trivial and silly question, but what seems sillier to me is going through life not knowing how to speak properly.

    And so my learned colleagues (that's "learn-ed";), please tell me what if any rules of grammar you apply to this situation. Do you "keep up with the Jones'" or the "Jones-es"?::eek:
  2. carver

    carver Moderator

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    In my world, it would be "It is Congress' responsibility". Pronounced as Congresses. When I pray it's always in Jesus' name, not pronounced as Jesuses name! And I don't give a hoot about keeping up with the Joneses, but I might like a ride in Jones's boat!
  3. Insulation Tim

    Insulation Tim Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Where's Alpo when one needs him?
  4. Airdale

    Airdale Member

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    "it is congress-es responsibility".

    correct
  5. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    You made me curious so I did a little "Goggling". Seems you are not alone in feeling uncomfortable with this situation and not the only one to rephrase to eliminate the "clumsy" sound. As always with our language there are a number of exceptions. Here was the shortest answer I found in a quick search:
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_possessive_case_for_words_ending_in_s
    I grew up the son of a school teacher and principal and was constantly bombarded with spelling and grammar correction. Most of it didn't sick; :D

    Here is another short one:
    http://www.grammarmudge.cityslide.com/articles/article/1026513/8914.htm

    Looks like there is enough confusion going around that you don't need to worry which ever way you go.

    I was always being called down when I would use "irregardless" and being told there was no such word. A the home of an English Professor who used the word I elbowed my mother hard enough to get a yelp.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
  6. Clipper

    Clipper Active Member

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    Well, if you are concerned then say "it is the responsibility of Congress to...." that takes the onus off your shoulder. having said that, it really is proper to use the s' with possessive nouns ending in s. Yep, English was one of my double major's in college, and I make as many blunders grammatically as anyone.
  7. wv hillbilly

    wv hillbilly Well-Known Member

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    ifin i can understand what you'r gettin at that's all that matters;)
    you should be worried about more important things like::eek:hmygosh:
    the un
    loss of your firearms
    the deficite
    the end of the world
    which 2 to use
    doe , as in deer, dough , as in bread
    :D:D:D:lmao2:
  8. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

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    Thanks all. Todd those links were very helpful. I think pronounciation wise I've been doing it right all along...I just didn't know it. Writing them is a different story, as I've been all over the place with how I spelled them, sometimes just adding an apostrophe and sometimes apostrophe "S".
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Because I'll know? Or because I'll have an opinion?:D

    English has some weird rules, and many contradict others, but one is pretty much straight across the board.

    If you make a noun possessive, you add an apostrophe ess and pronounce it like it is plural. Thus Bill become Bill's and sounds like two guys named Bill sitting there. The robin becomes the robin's, and sounds like multiple red-breasted birds.

    When the noun already ends in S, you do not add another S, but instead just place an apostrophe after the word. It is still pronounced, though, like it is plural.

    Therefore congress becomes congress', but sounds like two or three congresses screwing the country.

    And Jesus becomes Jesus', and sounds like multiple messiahs. Jesuses.

    I have heard people pray, many times, "In Jesus' Name", and I have never heard them says "Jesuses". They always say "Jesus". That may be correct, in RELIGION, but it is wrong in ENGLISH.
  10. mjp28

    mjp28 Well-Known Member

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    I haven't written a term paper in decades but I'll give you another easy tip, using apostrophes is one of the most incorrectly used things in English grammar. Especially the is it your or you're but there are others.

    Basically it's only used in two cases possesion or contraction. For possession generally if a word ends in an "s" you put it behind, if not you go " 's".

    But of course there are exceptions, here are 13 simple rules, yes 13!!

    http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

    But that's for important stuff, here I often just "wing it", same goes with spelling. :)
  11. mjp28

    mjp28 Well-Known Member

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    That pretty well simply sums it up!
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