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Charles Dickens's or Dickens', which one is using the correct possessive case?

In The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White, it wrote, "Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's"

so, according to Strunk & White, this would be correct, "Charles Dickens's novels"

but, I've looked through three other published grammar books, and each one says that it is rather, "Charles Dickens' novels"

so...which one of these books are correct? I'm more leaning towards Strunk & White because the book is praised by critics and professors accoss the country...but I don't understand how three other books could make a mistake.



to Gretchen,

in the Strunk&white book, it wrote, "follow this rule whatever the final consonant--Charles's friend, Burns's poems" (exact quote from inside The Elements of Style)

the book specially says that some like "Dickens's novels" is okay...

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Lean towards Strunk and White, by all means, but understand what they are saying.

    The possessive of a singular noun is indeed 's. That goes for a dog's tail, the car's horn, a man's name.

    But a name that already ends in S just takes an apostrophe: Dickens' novels, Mrs. Jones' cat, Delores' spaghetti.

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