It probably won’t kill anyone (this blog included) to relearn some basic grammar rules. For way too long, the tiny Strunk and White has been sitting on bookshelves, following its wayward owner from city to city. Each Tuesday, we’ll look at a different topic. Since grammar is universally known as unique form of tedious Catholic school nun torture, let’s try to spice it up! Please pay attention, there will be a quiz later.
(from “Elementary Rules of Usage,” Elements of Style. Strunk and White. 1959.)
1. Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write:
Charles’s dick. (Told you we’d make it interesting.)
Susie’s left tit.
Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus’ (oh that guy, changing all the rules), and forms such as for conscience sake, for righteousness’ sake.
The pronominal (pronouns) possessives hers, its, theirs, yours and ours have no apostrophe. Indefinite pronouns, however, use the apostrophe to show possession. Thus write:
One’s sexy times.
Somebody else’s sexy times.
A common error that everyone (yes even you) makes (especially when you’re tired and have stared at a computer all day, just sayin’) makes is switching its and it’s. The first, of course, meaning “it is.” The second is possessive.
It’s funny that its face is so ugly.
That’s all for today, but we have about 78 more pages to go as we continue on with Strunk and White. See you next week!