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You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

Yes, you too can make plurals and possessives

The Baltimore Sun

Last week, in an only moderately snarky post, I wrote: “I have come across a writer who knows how to form the plural possessive of a name ending in ‘s.’ Unicorns are real.”

Someone commented: “I wish you’d write a blog post about this.” Even though the formation of plurals and possessives is available from numerous sources, I’ll honor the request and review their formation.


Common noun

mule: one mule

mules: two or more mules

mule’s: belonging to one mule

mules’: belonging to two or more mules


Proper noun

Compson: one Compson

Compsons two or more Compsons

Comson’s: belonging to one Compson

Compsons’: belonging to two or more Compsons


Proper noun ending is “s”

(This is where it gets tricky.)

Snopes: one Snopes

Snopeses: two or more Snopeses

Snopes’ OR Snopes’s belonging to one Snopes (Both forms are acceptable, depending on your house style.)

Snopeses’ belonging to two or more Snopeses (That it is pronounced “Snopes-iz-iz” is regrettable, but I don’t make the language; I merely report on it.)


There are more recondite practices, such as classical and biblical names (Sophocles’ and Jesus’), but this set is the basics.

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