Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

What’s the Genitive Singular of ‘address’?

with 12 comments

I’ve been working on a translation project lately and just got stuck a wee bit. Look at the following sentence:

Alternatively, you can put it onto your email address’ ‘whitelist’

(intended meaning: ‘you can put it onto the ‘whitelist’ of your email address’)

Can someone tell me what the correct genitive singular is of the word ‘address’? I mean, in writing, you could just add an apostrophe, like what I’ve done above. However, it doesn’t look right. I’ve been trying to figure it out using Google, but not very helpful. I thought for a moment it might be addresse’s as I think that’s pronouncable (you can hear that it’s a genitive); however, on pasting addresse’s into Google I get stuff like this:

Beware sellers of unconfirmed addresse’s with paypal payments from buyers.

Doesn’t help, does it? Any sensible suggestions or pointers? For now, I’m just going to not use genitive, as I reckon that:

Alternatively, you can put it onto your email address ‘whitelist’

is grammatically correct too.

Written by lenina

2007 Feb 2 at 19:46

12 Responses

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  1. To me, what you’ve written (the first example) is perfectly fine. Some would use an s with the apostrophe to make “address’s,” but that’s a style issue. I prefer to leave off the extra s.

    “Addresse’s” is most definitely incorrect (in the US, at least), as it implies something belonging to an “addresse,” which isn’t a word (again, in the US). Is there such a thing as an “addresse” elsewhere?


    2007 Feb 2 at 20:07

    • In Denmark (here), we call it addresse (meaning the same – pronounced differently)… So, yes there is..! I wouldn’t add the s either, since it seems to me, that it indicetes a possesion. But then again if you see the whole email address as the subject, I think it is possible to use the s, since this would indicate that you are talking about the “whitelist” as belonging to the email address…


      2009 Aug 19 at 06:10

  2. ‘Addresse’ is not a word over here either – I simply thought it might be possible to insert an ‘e’ to make the genitive audible. How do you pronounce




    2007 Feb 3 at 04:55

  3. I believe it is pronounced the same as if it were written “address’s” (sounds like “addresses”).

    One thing that’s always bugged me is when people change a word to accommodate plurality and reflect its pronunciation. A prime example is the surname “Williams,” which some feel the need to make “Williamses'” to denote the family’s possession of something, even though no one named “Williamses” exists. (I typically just leave it as “Williams'” and pronounce it as with the singular.


    2007 Feb 3 at 08:36

  4. Ah, so it _is_ grammatically correct in some cases to add an ‘e’ to denote possession? That’s probably where my initial thinking came from. I couldn’t think of any examples. Is this only possible in the case of family names?


    2007 Feb 4 at 06:19

  5. I think this is more of a style issue than a grammar issue. Some style books say
    and some say


    2007 Feb 8 at 12:54

  6. Okay – here’s how *I* learned it, and how I teach my students:

    If you have a word that ends in s, and making it possessive adds a syllable to it, add an “apostrophe-s.” If making the word possessive doesn’t add the syllable, add just the apostrophe. Examples:

    “The Jones’s new car” (when making “Jones” plural, we say “Jones-es”)

    “The Indigo Girls’ latest album” (we don’t say “Indigo Girls-es”)

    The exceptions to this – and I’ve not had anyone explain to me why they’re exceptions – is “Jesus” and “Moses.” Even though making the names possessive adds a syllable, we still only add the apostrotphe.


    2007 Feb 16 at 15:30

  7. But why do you add an extra syllable to Jones but not to girls?
    That’s honestly how I learned it too, but it’s always seemed a little strange to me. It’s a rule to the extent that you can apply it in those cases in which you arbitrarily add syllables, which isn’t much of a rule!
    I’m pretty sure the point all of us are getting across here in our conflicting comments is that there isn’t a rule at all. If there were, someone would have been exclusively right by now.


    2007 Feb 17 at 18:34

  8. As my students often point out to me, “English is MESSED. UP!” Truly. All I can do is agree with them and continue with the lessons as best I can…


    2007 Feb 18 at 17:59

  9. [‘ædresəz] would certainly be the pronunciation of ‘address’ including a genitive clitic, no worries there. Your issue is in the orthographic representation of this clitic. Well, sorry to be pragmatic, but linguists have issues with orthography everyday. Welcome to the party.

    Also, it’s not necessarily the case that everything that functions as a noun must be able to take the genitive case, I mean, how would you affix the morpheme //-(ə)z// to a noun like… ‘existence’? Would you even need to? You can surely construct a reasonable situation in which you might want to:
    “Descartes was one of existence’s describers”
    But, it looks, sounds and appears horrible.

    What I’m trying to say is maybe the concept in your example above that seems to warrant the genitive case would be better expressed periphrastically. For instance, ‘the whitelist of/for/on your email address’. We do it often. We talk of ‘the verbs of English’ rather than ‘English’s verbs’, et cetera.


    2007 Feb 19 at 23:08

  10. According to my dear English Grammar in Use, Genitive Case rules are as follows:
    -Singular words take the S (hence, address’s, read “addresses”); names as well (Louis’s car)
    -Plural words don’t take the S, only the apostrophe (so addresses’); this rule applies to names as well (The Clintons’ campaign)
    -Biblical and historical names don’t take the S, just the apostrophe (Jesus, Moses and all, I’m not much of a Bible reader).
    As in the “existence” problem, I wouldn’t say there’s a case of possession of the noun, so I’d put it this way:
    “Descarte was one of the describers of existence.”
    May not help, but that’s what Cambridge taught me, and I’m sticking to it! ;-)

    Luis Gustavo Martinez

    2007 Oct 2 at 11:17

  11. Luis is correct, you can’t simply leave off the S if you intend to be correct.
    Janari is even more correct.
    If you are translating, then hopefully you are aiming for clarity; that is probably why you are bothered by the excessive S-ing. In most languages, the genitive case is tricky
    What is wrong with simply using the intended meaning? It is far more apt.
    Nevertheless, I stumbled upon this blog today and I quite enjoy it.

    Michael Park

    2008 Mar 26 at 17:06

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