We’re met with two different styles when using the possessive form for any names ending in “S,” we’re met with two different styles. Both styles are correct, and it depends on the writer’s preference which one they prefer. This article will look into the possessive form of “Williams.”
Williams’ Or Williams’s: Which Is The Correct Possessive Form?
The correct possessive form of “Williams” is both “Williams'” and “Williams’s.” We use “Williams'” according to the AP Stylebook, which is commonly used in schools. We use “Williams’s” according to the Chicago and Microsoft Manuals of Style.
While the AP Style without the “S” at the end of the apostrophe is the most common style in schools, that doesn’t mean it’s the most common style. Interestingly, the following graph will show us which the preferred style is:
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “Williams’s” is the preferred style. This means that the Chicago and Microsoft Manuals of Style are more commonly followed when using possessive forms for names ending with “S.”
When To Use Williams’
Let’s start with the common school style of “Williams’.”
“Williams'” is correct according to the Associated Press Stylebook. With AP Style, any names ending with an “S” do not need the extra “S” after the apostrophe. Instead, the “S” is dropped, only allowing the apostrophe to dictate the possessive form.
For some readers, this helps with understanding and pronunciation of words. You can imagine how hard it would be to pronounce “Williams’s,” considering that the possessive form of “Williams'” is pronounced the same as “Williams” without any possessive form.
Many writers prefer the simplicity that AP Style presents for them.
Examples of Williams’
- Harry Williams’ bicycle was somewhere over here!
- That was Joseph Williams’ car, wasn’t it?
- Where is Mr. Williams’ wallet? I need to return it to him.
- This isn’t Sergeant Williams’ first tour, and it won’t be his last either.
- Jack Williams’ mother is sick and needs help!
“Williams'” is the possessive form according to AP Style rules. We place an object directly after “Williams'” to show what it is that they possess in the sentence.
When To Use Williams’s
While the style is different, “Williams’s” works in much the same way as the AP style from above.
“Williams’s” is correct according to both the Microsoft Manual of Style and the Chicago Manual of Style. Both of these styles show that names ending with “S” also need the “‘s” ending that’s expected of any names or nouns in English.
We’ve already shown you that “Williams’s” is the most popular choice in English. That’s because it’s much easier to read. When we see the double “S” variation of the possessive form, it’s more obvious what we’re working with, which helps readers to engage more.
Think about it:
- Williams’s father
- Williams’ father
While the second example still works, the first example makes the possessive form much more obvious.
Examples of Williams’s
- Have you seen Jess Williams’s father lately?
- Where is Mrs. Williams’s mother?
- I’m at the Williams’s residence!
- This isn’t Horace Williams’s phone number!
- I haven’t got George Williams’s email address.
“Williams’s” uses the possessive form in the same way as “Williams’.” We place the object directly after the name to show what they possess.
Is There A Preference For Using Williams’ or Williams’s In US vs. UK?
It might help to briefly look into the differences between the two styles in American and British English. You might be surprised with what you find it.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “Williams’s” is the most popular choice in American English. However, this is only the case as of about two decades ago. Before that time, it seemed that “Williams'” was the more popular option.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “Williams’s” is also the most popular choice in British English. However, the margins between the two variations are barely noticeable here, making both options valid for British English writers.
American English values “Williams’s” as the more modern choice, while British English values both styles equally.
“Williams’s” appears to be the most popular choice wherever you are in the world. When using the possessive form, it’s ultimately up to you to choose which style you prefer. However, make sure you stick to the same style throughout your writing to avoid confusion.
You may also like: Louis’ Or Louis’s? Here’s The Possessive Form (Helpful Examples)
Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert at explaining difficult topics in a simple language.
Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.