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Definitive answer:
Words that are plural and end in s require the form --s'. Therefore, since Eels, the word, is plural and ends in s so its possessive must be Eels'. And we have "the Eels' debut album." Also, the Smiths' car, the Baskervilles' hound, the albums' purchasers, etc.

Other words that are plural and do not end in s require --'s. To wit: the children's room, or the oxen's owner.

Other words that end in s and are not plural also require --'s. To wit: The boss's house, or the atlas's index.

All words that are singular, even those that end in an s-sound require --'s. To wit: the cat's meow, the bee's knees, the fox's den, or the Jazz's coach.

Had the band been named Eelz, a nifty name, then the possessive would be Eelz's.

In summary:
1. plural ending in s, add '
2. *everything* else, add 's
Corollary: be not confused by the sound of s or z on the end of a word in the singular. It is a trap. Always follow rule #2.

PS--I've read and referred to Fowler, and I have a copy on my bookshelf. He is sometimes confused, not to mention dated.

PPS--Style guides are useful, but they are not always grammatical. If they were, then they would be redundant, and thereby unnecessary. A good grammar text would suffice instead.

Good luck.

danmahaffey December 18, 2005, 3:46pm

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