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X and S

Is it “Fort Knox’s walls” or “Fort Knox’ walls”?

  • November 3, 2005
  • Posted by krtek
  • Filed in Grammar

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The possessive form of singular nouns is always made by adding an appostrophe and an "s," even if the word ends with an s-like sound.

So it's Fort Knox's walls.

Also: "Jones's car" if there is only one Jones. If you're writing about the Jones family, they are the Joneses and thier car is the "Joneses' car." Same pronounciation, different spelling.

Boyce Rensberger November 3, 2005, 12:20pm

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Yes, Fort Knox's walls is the answer because it doesn't end in S although the x sounds s. But, how about Jones's car? Are you sure it is Jones'S car, not Jones' car?

mariskova November 8, 2005, 8:16am

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There really is no hard-and-fast rule about forming the possessive of singular nouns that end in "s" (although those that end in "x" definitely need both an apostrophe and an "s"). Both "Jones' car" and "Jones's car" are acceptable when talking about a car that belongs to just one Jones. Most authorities seem to prefer using the apostrophe-s in this case, but say you should use just an apostrophe if the apostrophe-s "sounds or appears awkward".

The rule about *plurals* ending in "s" is not optional: "the Joneses' car", *not* "the Joneses's car".

Avrom November 15, 2005, 1:14am

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It is "Jones' car" if talking about multiple Joneses.

Harry November 30, 2005, 3:19am

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Answer: Fort Knox's walls

Eric from Australia December 2, 2005, 12:18pm

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Harry: I don't think so. Perhaps I misunderstand you, but are you suggesting that a plural word like "Joneses" actually *loses* an "s" when it's made into a possessive?

Avrom December 2, 2005, 6:11pm

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When spelling the plural possessive form of autumn, do you spell it autumns' or autumn's?

confused :) December 16, 2005, 5:13pm

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gee confused, is that a trick question? When would you use the plural possessive form of autumn? If you were to say "Autumn's change in temperature...", that would still be the singular possessive, even if you were talking about every autumn, not just this autumn. I suppose you could say "The past twelve autumns' changes in temperature were excessive", which would use the plural possessive form and would be spelled "autumns'."

porsche December 19, 2005, 4:11pm

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Not necessarily.

Traditionally, a singular noun ending in "x" should use the (x'), such as "Fort Knox' walls." When I learned writing, my instructores insisted on traditional style (x'). Recently, grammatical use renders (x's) acceptable. Thus, one can also use "Fort Knox's walls."

A good rule in writing is always consider the audience. Use the traditional form (x') in academic-related writing and (x's) for business-style.

Ultimately, the audience dictates the punctuation style one uses and both are correct, as long as you are consistent.

Beverly February 3, 2006, 3:07pm

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I learned it this way:

If a word ends with S, you add apostrophe-S if you pronounce the S, and you drop it if you don't pronounce it.

"The cars' engines were running smoothly."
"The ladies' restroom is to the left."
"In Jesus' name, Amen."


"That is Mr. Jones's car."
"The boss's wife is attractive."
"There's a party tonight at Chris's house."

X is not S, so you must add 'S:

"Fort Knox's security system was compromised."

Modern proper names take 'S (Chris's, Jones's, etc.), but ancient proper names do not if they contain more than one S (Jesus', Moses').

Chris February 18, 2006, 3:03am

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Why can you not put an apostrophe after the x?

Jana July 7, 2006, 11:31am

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proper american-english grammar is no "s" after either "x" or "s," regardless of singular or plural.

Charles's is wrong, unless you are writing in Eubonics or other slang form of english.

edna exact November 17, 2006, 3:05am

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Not so fast, Edna. A short search shows many grammar sites show that 's should be added to possesive singulars ending in s, others show no s, and still others show it to be the writer's choice.

porsche November 18, 2006, 9:59pm

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The apostrophe-s is essential in the possessive case!
Let's consider this example:
Mr Edwards's son
How else would I know that this man's surname is Edwards and not Edward if I don't add an 's' after the apostrophe (however awkward it may sound)?

Andrew October 11, 2007, 3:23am

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Andrew, if his name was Edward, the possessive would be Edward's. If his name is Edwards the possessive is Edwards'. Where's the confusion?

oliana October 19, 2007, 6:44am

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Beverly addressed academic and business - what about legal writing - briefs, pleasdings, etc.

veh44 October 22, 2008, 9:41am

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When a last name ends in x should es be added if you are addressing an envelope to the whole family.

Peg December 9, 2008, 4:24pm

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Based on what I learned in English, you add ('s) for possessive words that:
1) don't end in (s): Micheal's, Ronald's, The dutch's, The fleet's
2) are mono-syllabic that end in either (x) or (s): Rex's, Hans's, Ross's
3) are multi-syllabic that end in (x): Xerex's, Pyrex's

You don't add ('s) for words that are:
1) multi-syllabic and end in (s): Jesus', Reyes', Laos', Cyprus'

Hope that helps :)

punchpooch35 September 1, 2011, 4:44am

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Well it's definitely not "The Joneses's car" if it belongs to the whole Jones family.

firestriker August 8, 2013, 11:48pm

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Yes     No