Our Apostrophe Crisis: Is it Fair Oaks’ or Fair Oaks’s? (POLL)

Some of the most respected publications in the world approach this apostrophe rule differently. Comment below and let us know your take.

My colleague at Davis Patch brought this thought to my attention Friday and I can't say that I don't share his affliction: How do I properly tack an apostrophe onto the possesive form of Fair Oaks? Just to shed a little light on the subject, here's how it looks in my head every time. Which one is correct?

  • Fair Oaks's Local Businesses are Improving
  • Fair Oaks' Local Businesses are Improving

Do you think you have the answer? The examples below from respected publications may leave you second-guessing. Each of the sentences focuses on NON-PLURAL words that end in "S": Fair Oaks, Steve Jobs, and Tiger Woods. 

Note: Fair Oaks Patch uses “Fair Oaks',” mostly because I feel like it's a space saver and when in doubt, always look to the New York Times. But, as Justin has said: “If the New York Times jumped off a bridge…” Anyway, in this journalist's humble opinion, it just looks...nicer.

Indeed, the New York Times' style (see what I did there?) on the topic would not agree with mine.

Alternatively, The Associated Press goes the other way, suggesting things like "Jesus' life" or "Kansas' schools" as the proper approach. 

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Publications that Use Fair Oaks's

  • New York Times: Mr. Jobs’s first job was at Atari, and it involved the game Pong. 
  • The Atlantic: ...[it] isn't something that's necessarily endorsed by Jobs's biographer.
  • Sports Illustrated: ...Phil Mickelson's fast start, Tiger Woods's putting and Rory McIlroy's run. 

Publications that Use Fair Oaks'

  • Fair Oaks Patch: “Some of Fair Oaks' finest dining establishments are squaring off in Fair Oaks Patch's first "Best of" 2012 contests.”
  • Davis Vanguard: Politicos Share Their Views of the Candidate Field and Davis' Future
  • CNN: He got a call from one of Jobs' associates who asked him several questions.
  • ESPNWoods' remarks came before PGA Tour rookie...

As you can see, we are a nation divided on this front.

According to Grammarbook.com, the nerds of the world will argue heatedly on the subject for eternity, but the most roundly accepted rule is to include the apostrophe, along with an extra “S.” (Fair Oaks's rather than Fair Oaks'). Personally, I disagree with this from a strictly journalistic point of view, but I'm a simple kind of guy.

However, reading stuff like that won't help me sleep at night, especially when I wake up the next day and see it done every which way on CNN or in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal...you get the picture.

Bottom line: I can't help but think twice. 

Share your opinion in the comments section below. 

Joshua Staab March 04, 2012 at 08:27 PM
It raises the point that perhaps local colloquialisms are sufficient enough. I could get behind that.
Tress Putnam March 05, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I voted for Fair Oaks' not Fair Oaks's, though I believe both are correct and the use falls to the preference of the writer. I have a personal reference to this issue. My first name is Tress and the possessive I use is Tress' not Tress's.
Joshua Staab March 05, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Imagine if there were multiple Tresses. It reminds me of a day in one of my journalism classes where we had to figure out what is technically correct for the "Jones" mailbox. Since there are multiple Joneses and it's their mail, how is it technically supposed to look on the mailbox? It's making my brain hurt all over again.
Mike Paris March 05, 2012 at 11:55 PM
When in doubt, call Strunk & White!
Jim Pearce March 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
According to what I recall from suffering through the same issue, when a name ends in an "s", it is proper to append an " 's " to the name when indicating possessiveness. However, I like just Fair Oaks, since Fair Oaks doesn't possess (own) anything and the general reference to something in Fair Oaks is "located there". So one could correctly substitute Fair Oaks businesses for businesses located in Fair Oaks, or Fair Oaks parks for parks located in Fair Oaks. Let's keep it simple.


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