Posted by: episystechpubs | October 18, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Have I finished beating a dead stallion?

As promised, I have a few more tidbits on the possessive forms of words. Before I get to that, though, I want to answer a question that a good friend of the Editor’s Corner asked. We will call him “Mr. D” to protect his reputation and privacy. Mr. D wanted to know why the newspaper and other media don’t tend to refer to the Chargers’ wide receiver or the Chiefs’ scoreboard (using the apostrophe to indicate possession). My first thought was that maybe it’s a difference between the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style. My second thought is that like “girls’ basketball” and “girls basketball,” the sports teams are being used attributively.

I looked through the AP Stylebook and I’m here to report that I couldn’t find any special rule about teams and apostrophes, so I think the team names are not intended to indicate ownership. (Can you ever really own a quarterback?) What the AP Stylebook does include, however, is:

· The correct way to report archery scores

· How to spell athlete’s foot

· Which team to report first in basketball scores (visiting team)

· That bobsledding is scored in minutes, seconds, and tenths of a second

· How boxing defines a kidney punch

· The differences between a colt, gelding, horse, and stallion

· Etc.

From the Chicago Manual of Style:

Possessive of most nouns

The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s. The possessive of plural nouns (except for a few irregular plurals, like children, that do not end in s) is formed by adding an apostrophe only.

the horse’s mouth

a bass’s stripes

puppies’ paws

children’s literature

a herd of sheep’s mysterious disappearance

Possessive of nouns plural in form, singular in meaning

When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural (i.e., the plural is uninflected), the possessives of both are formed by the addition of an apostrophe only. If ambiguity threatens, use of to avoid the possessive.

politics’ true meaning

economics’ forerunners

this species’ first record (or, better, the first record of this species)

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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