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Wow! So many opinions. I'd go with Orpheus, but with the understanding that there are exceptions.

Personally, I tend to break this rule whenever the result is difficult to pronounce - which I think would include "Socrates'".

Is this sentence correct? (Poulton is a last name, and there are two of them.)

"The Poultons' brains are composed entirely of waste products."
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Actually, you are both correct. It depends on whether you want to use the traditional or the popular style. If the name is "James," we can show possession in two ways:

e.g. "James' car." OR "James's car."

It all depends on styleEmotion: smile
How about if the apostrophe is being added to a pronoun? For example:

The cat eyed me suspiciously so I removed it's eyes.

Is the apostrophe appropriate? If not is "it's" only appropriate when contracting "it is"?
Apart from this being a deeply sinister post (have the animal welfare people been informed?Emotion: wink ), the use of "it's" is wrong.

"It's" is ALWAYS a contraction of: "It is", never a possessive pronoun.
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Thank you for the clarification. "It's" is a bad habit I grew up with.

No cats were harmed in the writing of this post.
I thought you were quoting Poe's short story, "The Black Cat", The two differences were that the cat was pevish and avoiding her owner because of the "instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance" (he'd had a violent drunken bender), and he did remove one of the cat's eyes, but it was more graphically described -- involving a pen knife. (The cat does get him in the end.)

Anyway, I was just doing a Google search on the subject of the apostrophe used in proper names ending with an 's'. One of the hints I'd read in a Chicago-style help book was to listen for the extra sylable in the pronouciation.

For instance: It was quoted in William Gaddis's "The Recognitions"

Williams last name is pronouced Gaddis-ez in the possesive. (I don't know how to underline or italicize that book title, so please forgive the quotes.)

William Gaddis is an amazing writer, I'm told, but he probably doesn't get the same billing as Socrates or Jesus, so...no exception. Would this be correct? I followed the extra sylable "hint".

By-the-way, I just discovered this website and I'm hooked! Mind if a few friend join me?
As Taken from one of the site.

Briefly, we can say that apostrophes have three uses:

1) To show possession in nouns

We add an apostrophe and "s" after all singular nouns and after plural nouns that do not end in "s":

Susan’s book; Pete’s dog; the children’s toys; the men’s room.
We add an apostrophe without "s" after plural nouns ending in "s":

The Beckhams’ mansion; the dogs’ dinners.
Note that we do not use apostrophes with the possessive pronouns hers, its, ours and yours, but we do use them with possessive pronouns that end in "-one" or "-body":

Give the cat its dinner; Those books are ours.
It must be somebody’s; Everyone’s papers are on the table.
2) To represent missing letters

We use apostrophes in contractions like:

Didn’t (Did not); There’s (There is); We’ll (We will)

3) In some plural forms

We use apostrophes if we want to make a plural form of a noun that does not normally have one:

I am afraid there are too many if’s and but’s for me to approve the plan.
They are also used in the plurals of letters, and can be used with abbreviations and numbers:

The manager crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s of the document.
A meeting of the most important DG’s in the sector (also DGs).
The 1990’s were very exciting years (also 1990s).
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I am afraid there are too many if’s and but’s for me to approve the plan. Would it be possible to say I am afraid there are too many ifs and buts for me to approve the plan. What should we understand here? Thanks in advance for your help.
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