ANN: New Book: Programming in Python 3

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Sat Dec 20 02:58:22 CET 2008

On Fri, 19 Dec 2008 18:53:22 +0100, Thomas Heller wrote:

> Steve Holden schrieb:
>> Thomas Heller wrote:
>>> Question from a non-native english speaker: is this now valid english?
>>>   "One of Python’s great strengths"
>>>                 ^
>>>   "and also teaches Python’s functional programming features"
>>>                           ^
>>>   "The book’s approach is wholly practical"
>>>            ^
>> It always has been valid English. The apostrophe is only omitted from
>> personal pronouns (hers, its, and so on).
> I see, thanks.  But, is the apostrophe optional in the above fragments?

No. In English, you indicate possessives in one of two ways:

The approach of the book is wholly practical.
The book's approach is wholly practical.

In the second form, the apostrophe is always needed, with a couple of 
exceptions. The first exception is personal pronouns:

My approach is wholly practical.
His approach is wholly practical.
Its approach is wholly practical.

(The third one often gives even native English speakers trouble, with 
confusion between the contraction "it's" (it is) and the possessive 

The second exception is if the word ends with an S. In British English, 
you put the apostrophe after the S:

Thomas' approach is wholly practical.

In American English, they often (but not always) add an extra S:

Thomas's approach is wholly practical.

which in my opinion is logical but ugly and should be avoided.


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