Chicago Style Workout 10: Possessives

Jesse OwensOn your mark!

This month’s workout, “Possessives,” centers on section 7.15–28 of CMOS. Advanced editors might tackle the questions cold; learners can study those sections of the Manual before answering the questions.

Remember: The workouts are all about Chicago! If you’re an expert in MLA, AP, or New York Times style, you might be surprised to find that your instincts don’t quite match Chicago’s. That doesn’t mean that your answer is necessarily “wrong”—it just means it isn’t Chicago style.

(Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual. For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: These questions are designed to test knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style. Other style guides may have different rules and guidelines. All ten questions this month are true/false.

Chicago Style Workout 10: Possessives (CMOS 7.15–28)

1. Chicago style normally adds an apostrophe and s to singular nouns {the horse’s mouth} {Sandy Jones’s theories} {FDR’s legacy} {Descartes’s philosophy} {2016’s top events}.
a.  
b.  
2. The possessive of regular plural nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe only {the candidates’ platforms} {the puppies’ paws}.
a.  
b.  
3. Some style guides form the possessive of  all words ending in s (whether singular or plural) with an apostrophe only {Descartes’ philosophy} {Etta James’ singing} {that business’ tax returns}. Chicago does not recommend this style.
a.  
b.  
4. Inanimate objects cannot logically possess anything and therefore should not take the possessive form {the edges of the table, not the table’s edges} {the points of the argument, not the argument’s points}.
a.  
b.  
5. When the singular form of a noun ending in s is the same as the plural, form the possessive the usual way, with an apostrophe and s {politics’s true meaning} {economics’s forerunners} {the United States’s role} {Highland Hills’s new mayor}.
a.  
b.  
6. When two nouns share in the possession of an item or items, only the second element takes the possessive form {my aunt and uncle’s house} {Lerner and Loewe’s songs}.
a.  
b.  
7. When two nouns individually possess named items, both elements take the possessive form {Lerner’s and Loewe’s royalty checks} {Jacques’s and Mimi’s cell phones} {Jorge’s and Hattie’s opinions}.
a.  
b.  
8. In noun phrases and compound nouns, every noun in the phrase must show possession, whether singular or plural {my two sons’-in-law’s invitations} {all the attorneys’ generals’ statements}.
a.  
b.  
9. The possessive form may be preceded by of where one of several is implied {a friend of Omar’s} {a friend of his}.
a.  
b.  
10. When an italicized term appears in roman text, the possessive s should be set in roman {the Atlantic Monthly’s editor} {Gone with the Wind’s readers}.
a.  
b.  

 

Photo: Jesse Owens, courtesy of Pixabay.

 

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P.S. We welcome discussion! Please use the comments feature below.
(Spoiler alert: Commenters may discuss the workout and their answers!)

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4 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 10: Possessives

  1. A note on No. 5: There are nouns that end in -s where the singular and plural forms are the same but the possessive forms distinguish between singular and plural, for example, “marquis”: “The marquis’s daughters attended the dance.” / “The two marquis’ daughters met at the dance.” At least, that is how I would form the possessive plural of “marquis” (and pronounce both singular and plural possessive as [mar-KEEZ]).

    • That’s an interesting point! Chicago style is able to avoid that issue by preferring the plural marquises, per Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

      • Yes, that’s fine, but if you are writing a lot about the French nobility you may want to have a way of distinguishing the marquises from their wives and widows, the marquises.

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