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Is it James’ or James’s? (Correct Grammar + Examples)

What is the possession and pluralization of the proper noun “James?” Using the apostrophe in the English language typically provides pluralization to the word that it is modifying. Adding an apostrophe can suggest that there is possession. And many amounts of certain things. For example, “Sonia’s book is missing.” In this sentence, the possession of the book is to Sonia, the person. This is how an apostrophe can modify singular nouns. An apostrophe can also modify compound nouns and create joint or separate possession.

Learn which word form is correct in this short guide…

Why is there confusion between Jame’s, James’, or James’s?

When we pluralize and show possession, we typically an apostrophe + “s” to the word form we are modifying. In this situation, “Jame’s” and “James'” are technically both correct. Although where they get used and how they get used is where things become confusing.

For example, if we are showing possession, we would say, “We can go to James’ house.” This would be the possessive form of the word and name “James.” The confusion is that the word ends in an “s” already, making it complex to pluralize.

How to use the apostrophe correctly

The possessive singular noun is made by adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” to the singular noun in question, regardless of whether the singular noun ends in an “s” letter.

When a plural noun has an “s” at the end, the possessive form of the noun is created by simply adding an apostrophe. When the noun ends in any other letter, the possessive form is made by adding both an apostrophe and an “s.”

Singular nounSarah’s
Plural nounWomen’s
2 or more peopleKim and Adam’s
Singular noun ending in “s”James’s and James’
Plural noun ending in “s”Parent’s
2+ peopleKim’s and Adam’s
Apostrophe for PossessivesApostrophe for Contractions
Amy’s swim classthey + have = they’ve
Karen’s carare + not = aren’t
Robert’s vehiclethey + will = they’ll

“James” definition

Let’s take a look at the definition of “James.”

James (name)A person named James.

Which is correct? James’ or James’s?

Here is a simple breakdown of which word form is correct. For examples of each word form in an English sentence, scroll down to the next section.

WordCorrect or incorrect
James’Correct in AP Style
James’sCorrect in Chicago Manual of Style format and Microsoft Manual of Style

Key differences

In the above examples, we are trying to show possession when we are referring to a proper noun (a person). Both of the first forms are correct with the last form being incorrect.

James' or James's
James’ or James’s

“James’s” sentence examples

Below are sentence examples using the word form correctly:

  • We went to James’s house the other day for a meal. It was great.
  • I want to go to James’s basketball game today.

“James'” sentence examples

Below are sentence examples using the word form correctly:

  • We went to the basketball game and saw James’ family.
  • I’d like to go to the show so we can visit with them for James’ birthday.

How to remember which word form to use

Remember that we only use an apostrophe + “s” when we are trying to show possession over another noun (in this case a proper noun). Both forms of the word are correct depending on which style guide we are referring to.

Here is a simple trick to remember apostrophe rules:

Use apostrophe + “s” with nouns that don’t end in “s”. When a singular noun has possession over another noun (such as Sarah’s hat or mom’s cat), add an apostrophe + “s” to the end of the noun. The same rules apply for collective nouns and plural nouns that don’t end in the “s” letter.

Common questions

Questions and answers about the English language.

Is it James’s birthday or James’ birthday?

Both forms of this sentence are grammatically correct.

Is it James’s family or James’ family?

Both forms of this sentence are grammatically correct.


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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