Why Britney Spears is not like Jesus

Some things about the English language are just too difficult to comprehend even for professional writers and editors. Of course, most things about the language are too difficult for Yahoo! staffers to understand, but right now I’m thinking about one aspect of the language — possessives. You know, the form of a noun that shows possession, usually with an apostrophe and an S.

Thing get a little more complicated when the noun is a name that ends in S. Some authorities suggest you add just an apostrophe; others say you add an apostrophe and an S. Actually, it’s a matter of house style. And at Yahoo!, there is no house style, consistency is unimportant, and both forms are okie-dokie:

But for some names, authorities agree: The possessive is formed with just an apostrophe. One of those names is Jesus. So it’s not a matter of house style when Jesus’s appears on yahoo.com here:

and here:

It’s not house style. It’s just wrong.

UPDATE: A reader recently asked me if Britney Spears was a lesbian. “Why would you think that?” I asked. “Because she has a fiancée.” Yup, I neglected to point out in the first screen shot, above, that the writer should have used the word fiancé, which indicates an engaged man. After doing a little digging, I found that I was not a complete slacker. I noted that mistake back in May. Whew!


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