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This commitment ensures when there is an opportunity to improve on our members’ quality of life, we have the information needed

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closed as general reference by RegDwigнt Jan 18 '13 at 18:12

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

but you need a that after ensures – Jim Jan 17 '13 at 23:42
@Jim: You can include the word "that", but you certainly don't need to. – FumbleFingers Jan 18 '13 at 3:26
@FumbleFingers- Hmm, it just sounds wrong to me without it. For me it changes the nature of the verb ensures. Like in the sentence "The ladder extends when the button is pressed." ensures acts like extends. I.e., "When does the commitment ensure?" "When there is an opportunity." It needs the that in my book. But I suppose a comma after ensures might be ok in lieu of that. – Jim Jan 18 '13 at 3:53
You are both right. That is not necessary, as FumbleFingers says, but omitting it does create a garden-path sentence, as Jim demonstrates. Garden-path sentences are perfectly grammatical, they just take additional mental effort (and thus time) to parse. You want to eliminate that effort, go for it; you want to be cruel on your reader, go for it. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. – RegDwigнt Jan 18 '13 at 18:09
That being said, I consider this general reference. Plus we already have literally dozens of questions covering such use of apostrophes (again, many of them closed as general reference.) – RegDwigнt Jan 18 '13 at 18:12

yes, it is the quality of life that belongs to (plural) members, thus an s' is proper.

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You can have either members' or members's. Some style-guides recommend the latter, but I personally much prefer the former. If you don't have to follow a given style-guide, then it's up to you.

Yes, you use an apostrophe after the S.

(I was previously remembering wrong above. The case that some guides disagree with my taste on is when there is an apostrophe following a word that ends in S for another reason - some use s', some s's and some have more complicated rules - so you can have e.g. boss' in some guides and boss's in others. I was mis-remembering which ways some of them disagree with me).

The sentence should perhaps though be:

This commitment ensures that when there is an opportunity to improve our members’ quality of life, we have the information needed.

This adds a that, and changes "improves on" to "improves". The idiom "improves on" means to do better in another case. You don't want to make somebody's quality of life better than your members', you want to make your members' quality of life better.

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I'd like to see a style guide that recommends members's - is it the Smeagol Style Guide? – Edwin Ashworth Jan 18 '13 at 0:12
@EdwinAshworth I realise now I was misremembering. It's in singular words ending in -s that some say s', some say s's and some have more complicated rules for which in which case. As someone who always does s' I just remembered that there are guides that disagree with me on that, and not the cases where they do so. – Jon Hanna Jan 18 '13 at 0:41
Same issue with names ending with ‘s’ –– is it Bob Jones’ house or Bob Jones’s house? (I vote for Jones’s.) – Scott Jan 18 '13 at 2:36
Believe (but have no cite) that words that end in s form possessive with an apostrophe only, except proper names that end in s which more commonly take 's. – bib Jan 18 '13 at 3:59
@bib I can cite the NYT style guide as one that disagrees with you, using s's but not ss's (series's but also boss'). There are also some that have (series', some that have boss's and some that have Jones'). There isn't a full consensus. – Jon Hanna Jan 18 '13 at 8:57

You're referring to a noun (quality of life) possessed by more than one member, so yes, it should read "members'".

I'd like to suggest revising the statement to something like, "(Name of person, group, company, etc. as a possessive...) commitment to X ensures we have the needed information to improve our members' quality of life at every opportunity."

For example: "Green Hills Nursing Home's commitment to digital record keeping ensures we have the needed information to improve our members' quality of life at every opportunity."

  • I've found it more effective to remove potential ambiguity by replacing "this", "that", and "they" with the actual subject(s).
  • It removes the unnecessary "when there".
  • It removes the need for a comma.
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