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Editorial geekery

A colleague and I were proofreading this sentence yesterday: "Our team of experts has extensive experience developing the most effective strategies for your business survival." Business ought to be possessive, so, thinking I was following AP style, I added a lone apostrophe at the end of the word and called it a day.

When my colleague read the revision, she said it should be "business's," not "business'." That's definitely true for the Chicago Manual of Style, but I didn't think it was right for AP.

Confident in my case, I looked up the rule. It turns out that she had the more generally defensible point. Still, my edit was right, completely by accident.

Check this out from the AP Style Guide Online:

SINGULAR COMMON NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add 's unless the next word begins with s: the hostess's invitation, the hostess' seat; the witness's answer, the witness' story.


So, because the next word -- strategies -- begins with s, it's correct to go with the apostrophe alone. There's logic to this -- avoiding too many "s"s in a row enhances readability. But, honestly, did you know this?

As an aside, next time you're unhappy at work, remember that it's some person's job to come up with rules like this, all day long.


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