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Dec 12 2012   2:15AM GMT

Santa Claus’s sleigh or Santa Claus’ sleigh?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

 

Which is correct?
On December 24th, a lot of children can be found gazing out windows for a glimpse of _________ sleigh.
a. Santa Claus’
b. Santa Claus’s


Answer: It depends.

Explanation:
The AP Stylebook says to add just an apostrophe for the possessive form of a name ending in s; the Chicago Manual of Style says to add a second s as well.

If you have to follow one guide or the other, there’s your answer. Otherwise, decide which one you prefer and just be consistent. It’ll keep you on the “nice” list, grammar-wise at least.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

16  Comments on this Post

 
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  • darkangel1111
    a is the answer - it does not depend on anything!
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  • aneditor
    The rule is, if you pronounce the second "S" add an "S." If not, just add the apostrophe.
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  • arniesnarb
    'Add your reply...The rule is, if you pronounce the second "S" add an "S." If not, just add the apostrophe.'
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  • arniesnarb
    ... aye, but what is the rule for deciding whether you pronounce the second "S" or not???
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  • trlkly
    I'm actually quite happy with you here. I said in my head that both are right, but that she'll probably say "Santa Claus's." I am pleasantly disappointed.
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  • Linda0819
    You only use the apostrophe without the S in the case of a two-syllable name with the accent on the first syllable. Example: Christmas is about Jesus' birth as well as Santa Claus's trip around the world. 
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  • Pogotoo
    I agree on "it depends" since different grammarians differ.  Strunk & White, often used as reference, prefers the 's no matter what the ending or pronunciation.  BUT, Ivy, using grammar-wise!  That is terrible.  People who look to you for guidance will think that it is excusable to hyphenate anything instead of using a correct term and we may end up reading things like, "The blustering wind accompanied by harsh sleet weather-wise was not to my liking."
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  • pedant
    b is correct.   If you pronounce the S then you add 's.    So it's Santa Claus's
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  • ReadToLive
    All of the others who write just add the possessive apostrophe are correct.  If there is no pronunciation of a second 's', there is no second 's'.

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  • Robster
    If it depends on the pronunciation, then perhaps we should get to the bottom of how to say the word properly first.
    His name is Claus, Santa Claus. (Sorry! Just watched Skyfall).
    If we are talking of his sleigh (possessive) then we say an extra "s" to make it so.
    Therefore it is Santa Claus's.

    This dropping of syllables is an Americanism we can well do without. I particuarly hate "oriented" when the word is "orientated".
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  • yodadadude
    Robster mentions dropping [of] syllables. 

    One consequence of the sabotage caused by teaching according to the Whole Word Method is sub-literate misspellings such as the nearly-ubiquitous "Sorry for the inconvience". If you mistakenly regard an alphabetic writing system, our own, as logographic, like Chinese, that phrase probably looks OK, and many people don't notice the foreshortening.

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  • yodadadude
    I'll soon be 79, Lord willing. In past decades, it seems to me, one would almost never see a form such as "Claus's". It might, however, have been used in the 19th Century (cap. "C"?) and earlier.

    The noun form on this side of The Pond is always "orientation", at least, although somebody, on occasion, is likely to misspell it as "oriention", thinking they had the longer form in mind. 

    I'd not considered that the verb "to orient" could concisely signify a perhaps whimsical transformation in some sense to become Asian. If one were to do that to a book, the binding would move to the right side of the front cover.

    To my ears, "orientate" sounds a bit odd.

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  • oldgal67
    I think the 's' versus 'apostrophe' argument comes down to whether one chooses to sound as if one is spitting or hissing at the listener or reader.  With the name Ulysses, for instance, an extra 's' at the end would be ridiculous. Would anyone say Ulysses's in speech?  Surely not - it's a horrible tongue-twister. 

    The same rule, in my mind, applies to the word 'that' which, when used too often, also mimics spitting. It has been my practice for decades (like yododadude I'm getting on a bit!) to read over anything I've written and remove what usually amounts to half the 'thats' as being quite unnecessary.  It's amazing how much better the text flows without them.  

    I have read texts with so many 'that's' in them that I almost reached for a towel to mop my face at the end!  

    I'm English-born, have lived several chunks of my life on each side of the pond and feel most comfortable with 'oriented'.  
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  • MontyBruce
    I wrote a note on a Christmas present saying:
    To Rose 'n Bruce
    From: The Claus'
    meaning Mr. and Mrs.  Is this correct?

    My pet peeve is the all too common use of the singular "...there's..." when plural is referred to, in both speech, and now more and more, in writing.  "There's 14 people coming tonight."  My wife and I correct each other and notice we use this form less and less.

    In Vancouver, we hear so much language corruption it is easy to fall into a state of grammatical disrepair.
    Monty Bruce
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  • Calicocat1973
    B is the answer. It does not depend on anything. It's either right or it's wrong. AP style is wrong. The apostrophe only goes after an s is the s is for a plural. Since there is only one Santa Claus, the proper possessive for Santa Claus's. How do I know? My college Business English professor, who has a doctorate in English, and 20 years teaching experience, says so, and the it is written in the textbook also. AP style has only been accepted, because people have been doing it the wrong way for so long that everyone thinks that the wrong way is the right way.
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  • NavyEMC
    Was always told "Jesus' birth" was correct, but it doesn't sound right if you say "Jesus' birthday" to me, or Travis' birthday (my name).  I do use the apostrophe without the s frequently when it is a plural, however.  "That's the Mathews' house," for example.
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