Plural Possessive 's s's too many sss


New Member
Feb 14, 2024
Alas, my fantasy world has a problem with troops of Red Caps. They like to camp in the woods.
One day my hero found their camp. Which is most grammatically correct?

He found the Red Caps' camp.
He found the Red Caps's camp. (my spell-checker says this is wrong, but I'm not sure it's correct)
He found the Red Cap's camp. (pretty sure that is wrong)
He found the camp and ran away because grammar scares him.
Both the first and second are correct, but to my mind the first is preferable. (And you're right, the third option is wrong -- that's the camp of only one Red Cap.)

But if that is a real sentence, I was going to suggest you change it as it's so staccato and those two hard Cs together sound a tad comical as if it's the start of a funny song! But every version I try ("... the camp of the Red Caps" "... where the Red Caps camped" "...where the Red Caps were camping") aren't that much better! Perhaps the Red Caps can bivouac?? :LOL:
As The Judge says, both the first and second are correct. It depends on the style book the writer or publisher chooses to follow. Whichever you choose, just be consistent.
Another interesting one would be describing the wording of several courts martial. (talking of a commonality, and assuming that each one was slightly different otherwise.)
The courts' martial wording included the formula....
or the courts martial's wording included the formula...
or the courts martials' wording included the formula....
Sometimes something that is gramtically correct can still look - uncomfortable - in written text.

He found their camp?
Plurals ending in S only take an apostrophe.
Yes, but the issue arises when what looks plural (or singular) is, in fact and/or use, singular (or plural).

Teams of various sorts provide examples of this: when someone uses the name of a team, they could be thinking of the organisation, the team as a unit, or the team as its members... when Chelsea scored this afternoon (on the way to becoming the WSL champions), one sports commentator might say, Chelsea is ahead (thinking primarily of the team), while another might say Chelsea are ahead (thinking primarily of the players).

In the example in post#1, the name "Red Caps" could make it even more confusing**, by using an apparently plural name for what is a group.

** - Yet also prototypical: just think of the various Guards regiments in the British Army.
My usual reference says that the first is correct. Plurals ending in S only take an apostrophe. Apostrophe | The Punctuation Guide
But some of us still stick by Strunk and White, which says the second is correct.

Though some may consider it dated (not so many years ago, Strunk used to be THE essential style guide that all writers ought to have on their shelves), no one has yet ruled that it is incorrect. So the first and second examples in the original post are both correct, and a writer should go with whichever feels right to them. Just don't get confused and mix styles.
The camp of the Red Caps.

But Caps' is correct.

Also what you do for a singular noun ending in s.
But Caps' is correct.
As is Caps's (although I would use the former).

Also what you do for a singular noun ending in s.
For one thing, that's not a rule carved into stone; for another, more detailed rules may be involved. For example, I would (quite correctly) add 's to Jones to make Jones's, but only add the apostrophe to Xerxes, giving Xerxes'.
Thanks for all the helpful input. I am leaning toward s' but I'm afraid that dates me.
Quote from Cornell law school post.
'A court-martial is a legal proceeding where courts try a member of the military for offenses against military law. Courts-martial are governed by the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), except as...'

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