For most people this is no longer “breaking news”–if it ever was–but for those that don’t already know, Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) is ending its twenty season run in a couple of weeks!
Why am I mentioning this you ask? Mostly as an excuse to use hilarious screen caps while they’re still “relevant” but also to talk about grammar.
You read that right, grammar. There’s a connection…I promise.
I don’t normally watch reality television, but this last year has been rough, and understandably, I caved.
Slowly but surely, I watched my way through all the seasons of KUWTK as well as most of its spin-offs.
But how is grammar related? I’m getting there.
The show takes place in multiple locations but mainly in various family homes. These are noted on the screen with subtitles like “Khloé’s House” or “Kris’s House”.
These subtitles got me thinking about the confusion with apostrophes, nouns ending in “s”, and possession.
See! It’s relevant…Bible!
In the above example, we see the houses that belong to Khloé and Kris are described as “Khloé’s House” and “Kris’s House” respectively.
The apostrophe + “s” denotes possession and is used correctly in both cases.
Where the confusion lies tends to be with plural nouns that end in “s” and possession.
Let’s look at the following examples:
Kid – singular noun, no possession
Kids – plural noun, no possession
Kid’s – singular noun, possessive
Kids’ – plural noun, possessive
The kid went to the park (singular noun + no possession).
The kids went to the park (plural noun + no possession).
The kid’s bike is yellow (singular noun + possessive—the bike that belongs to the kid).
The kids’ grandmother came to visit (plural noun + possessive—the grandmother of the kids).
In a situation where the noun ends in “s” (ex: kids), in the possessive form, use the apostrophe but do not add an additional “s”.
From the above example: kids’
It’s generally incorrect to add the “s” after the apostrophe in the plural possessive form (meaning kids’s is incorrect).
Depending on the style guide you follow (see my note below), it’s also generally incorrect to add the “s” to plural proper nouns ending in “s” (but it is okay to do so in the singular form).
Jameses’s is the incorrect form of the plural possessive, whereas Jameses’ is the correct one.
However, James’s is the correct application of the singular possessive form and James’ tends to be incorrect.
Returning to our Kris example, Kris Jenner is the matriarch of the Kardashian/Jenner clan. Kris’s house is immaculate. I don’t know many Krises, but I bet all other Krises’ houses aren’t as put together as Jenner’s is.
With proper nouns ending in “s”, you must create a plural form of the noun (generally by adding “-es” to the root), then add the possession mark.
Since the additional “-es” in the plural form of Krises already duplicates the <s> sound, the possessive “s” is not included after the possessive apostrophe.
We end up with: Krises’
As in the houses that belong to all of the many Krises are in fact Krises’ houses.
In summary, that’s where my mind goes when I watch KUWTK.
If you’re looking for more clarification, here’s a nice Grammarly page that summarizes apostrophes and other forms of possession.
Or you can check out The Chicago Manual of Style’s entry on possessives.
Note: depending on what form of English you use, i.e. UK versus US, these rules may vary. It’s always important to reference a style guide and a dictionary for the specific form of English you use.
Thank you for spending this time together.