December 20th, 2010 / 4:07 pm

Is it “Gene Simmons’ tongue” or “Gene Simmons’s tongue”? What about the entire family? “The Simmons’s tongues” or “the Simmons’ tongues”? “The Simmonses’s tongues”? “The Simmonss’s tongues”? The fuck.


  1. Nick Kocz

      And what if another guy name Gene took that tongue? Would it be Gene’s Simmons’s tongue? Or would that other Gene (O.G) have the sense to trash that thing down the garbage disposal, thereby making necessitating the addiont of “ex-” in one or more place?

  2. alan

      Simmons’ and Simmons’s are both standard, so it would depend on the style you’re using. I like to add the “s” when I would pronounce an extra s-sound at the end, as in this case.

      Simmonses is plural so you wouldn’t add an “s” after the apostrophe.

      I once saw a sign in a bookstore marking the “Childrens’” section. A fucking bookstore.

  3. Jimmy Chen

      simmonses is plural but what about the possessive? there’s a taqueria in my hood called Carlo’s, as if Carlo is the owner, but I think he’s Carlos. he is confused.

  4. MG

      I always learned that the singular possessive ending in s can have either an apostrophe s or an apostrophe with no s, while plural possessive ending in s has no s after the apostrophe.

      ex. Gene Simmons’s tongue OR Gene Simmons’ tongue
      ex. The Simmonses’ tongues
      ex. Carlos’s taqueria or Carlos’ taqueria

  5. drewkalbach

      the extra s after the apostrophe lends the phrase power and meaning. to leave it off is to fail.

  6. Matthew Simmons

      No comment.

  7. deadgod

      I think MG is right about denoting tongue-possession.

      I also agree with Alan’s descriptivistic prescription: write out what you would actually say. If it looks wrong enough, you might find yourself saying it differently next time. What feels most naturally intelligible to you, at some particular moment, is probably the way you should go.

      (If you’re a linguistic moron, or a willful genius, don’t worry about other people understanding you.)

      I also wonder if the taqueria isn’t owned by an Italian guy.

  8. alan

      This is what I meant, Jimmy.

      “Simmonses” is a plural noun formed with a final “s.” Plurals formed with a final “s” don’t get an additional “s” when you make them possessive. Unlike plurals formed another way, such as “children.”

  9. Gian

      I always heard that the only people who don’t need the extra S are Moses and Jesus and I tend to stick with it. Moses’ beard and Jesus’ son. Anyone else is a nobody and needs the extra s. (Yes, I went to catholic school.)

  10. alan

      You read Denis Johnson in Catholic school?

  11. Donald

      The s’ isn’t exclusive to Moses and Jesus, as far as I know. I’ve read various guides (in the course of doing sub-editing stuff) which say that it extends to all classical (Classical?) names. So Achilles’, Venus’, James’s, Simmons’s.

      If you’re pluralising a surname, I’d say it would go to “Simmonses”. Since that’s plural, the possessive would then be “Simmonses’ “.