Jones’ or Jones’s?

In the realm of English grammar, few topics raise as much debate and confusion as the proper formation of possessives. One particular bone of contention is the possessive form of the surname “Jones.”

Should it be written as Jones’ or Jones’s? This seemingly innocuous question has sparked countless discussions among grammarians, writers, and English enthusiasts alike. As an expert in English Language, it’s imperative to shed light on this matter and provide clarity.

Possessive Basics

Before delving into the intricacies of “Jones’” versus “Jones’s,” it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of possessives in English. Possessives indicate ownership or association. They typically take two forms: the apostrophe followed by “s” (‘s) or just an apostrophe (‘).

Singular Possessives

Singular possessives are used to show that one thing or person belongs to another. In most cases, you add ‘s to the end of a singular noun to indicate possession.


  • The cat’s toy
  • Mary’s car

Plural Possessives

When dealing with plural nouns, the possessive form depends on whether the plural noun ends in -s or not. If it does, you only need to add an apostrophe after the -s. If the plural noun doesn’t end in -s, you add ‘s just like with singular nouns.


  • The dogs’ leashes (plural noun ending in -s)
  • The children’s toys (plural noun not ending in -s)

The Jones Dilemma

Now, let’s address the specific issue of “Jones’” versus “Jones’s.” The dilemma arises because “Jones” ends in -s, making it a plural noun. However, it is a surname, and common practice often treats it as a singular noun. So, which form is correct?


Some style guides and authorities advocate for using Jones’ as the possessive form of the surname “Jones.” They argue that adding another -s after the apostrophe can be cumbersome and unnecessary, especially when dealing with proper nouns ending in -s.


  • Mr. Jones’ car
  • The Jones’ family estate


On the other hand, many modern style guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook, recommend adding ‘s after the apostrophe to form possessives with singular proper nouns ending in -s. This ensures consistency in usage across all types of nouns.


  • Mr. Jones’s car
  • The Jones’s family estate

Scenario Examples

To illustrate the usage of both forms, let’s consider various scenarios involving the Jones family:

  1. Ownership:
    • Jones’: The Jones’ vacation home is nestled in the mountains.
    • Jones’s: Jones’s cat is missing.
  2. Association:
    • Jones’: Jones’ neighborhood is known for its friendly atmosphere.
    • Jones’s: Jones’s company won the contract.
  3. Plural Possessive:
    • Jones’: The Jones’ cars were parked in the driveway.
    • Jones’s: The Jones’s children excel in sports.


In conclusion, both Jones’ and Jones’s are accepted forms in English. The choice between them often depends on personal preference or adherence to a specific style guide. As an expert in English Language, it’s essential to understand the nuances of possessives and apply them appropriately in writing.

Whether you opt for Jones’ or Jones’s, consistency within your writing is key to maintaining clarity and coherence.

Related Post:

  1. Mystery: Fox’s, Foxes’, or Foxes
  2. Well Written or Well-Written?

Leave a Comment