Bridget Jones’s Baby


Is the punctuation in the title of the current movie correct? Yep. Would Jones’ also be correct? Yep. Sounds complicated, so let’s approach this in baby steps. We’ll start with a name not ending in “s” or “z,” such as Smith:

Singular, not possessive: I hired Smith.
Singular and possessive: I borrowed Smith’s car.
Plural, not possessive: I bumped into the Smiths.
Plural and possessive: I love the Smiths’ new home.

Now for a name ending in “s” or “z”

Singular, not possessive: I hired Jones.
Singular and possessive: I borrowed Jones’s (OR Jones’) car.
Plural, not possessive: I bumped into the Joneses.
Plural and possessive: I love the Joneses’ new home.

Four postscripts

1. Because you’re right either way in making a name like Les, Bess, or Perez possessive (Les’s OR Les’, Bess’s OR Bess’, Perez’s OR Perez’, determine your style and stick with it.

2. When you don’t like the way something looks, such as Bess’s solution – even though it’s correct and consistent with your style – just reword it. You might make that Bess offered a solution….

3. Note that the most common error in handling names is yielding to the illogical temptation to insert an apostrophe in front of the “s” when making a name plural. So it’s not We invited the Parker’s to our picnic. It’s We invited the Parkers to our picnic. 

4. If you’re a masochist, you can find additional guidelines on apostrophes in names, but adhering to the grid above will keep you sane and safe.

You can learn more about my workshops on writing in the workplace, individual coaching, editing, and handbook – 100+ Instant Writing Tips – at Thank you.

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