I clearly remember sitting in my fifth grade classroom listening to Mrs. Williams explain that if a person’s name ends in an s and you’re talking about something they own, you add the apostrophe and the s. I can picture her written example on the board. “Chris’s cup.” But since that fateful day, I have seen this rule followed and broken. I thought, Surely my fifth grade teacher wasn’t wrong. I must not be remembering the other part of the lesson when she explained when you don’t put that extra s. Up until today it didn’t really matter to me. Today I am writing about a character named Supervisor Sarah Stevens (hooray alliteration!) and it suddenly became very important to know whether or not I needed an extra s when talking about the glasses of Supervisor Sarah Stevens. So I asked my roommate because she’s smart and an English teacher. She explained to me the rule, that it depends on pronunciation. But because I am me, I had to look it up for myself.
She was right. It depends on pronunciation.
Which is a problem because I like my grammar rules (like I like all my rules) black and white, right and wrong.
So is it Supervisor Sarah Stevens’ or Supervisor Sarah Stevens’s? I’m still not sure.