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In a compound noun with a postpositive adjective, such as "Director-General" or "Court Martial," the noun is pluralized by using the plural form of the first word (i.e. "Directors-General" or "Courts Martial").


How are possessive forms of both the singular and plural compound nouns formed?

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Please include the "Director-General" and "Court Martial" example in your response.

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, coleopterist, waiwai933 Mar 18 '13 at 0:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

What are you asking? The question as worded will not elicit the answer you need, because you have asked the wrong question altogether. Please do not make people guess. –  tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 20:03
I think this question is asking about the awkwardness of an expression like "the Court's Martial history of leniency" and how to avoid it. –  tylerharms Mar 17 '13 at 20:24
@tylerharms You have to make the whole phrase possessive. –  tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 20:26
@tchrist: I would use the "Norman genitive" (thanks for that phrase, btw) if it were me and avoid the issue. –  tylerharms Mar 17 '13 at 20:32

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You make the noun plural and the entire phrase possessive using the so-called “Saxon genitive”:

  • The queen of England’s favorite food is cake.
  • All queens of England’s favorite food is cake.


  • The attorney general’s office.
  • All attorneys general’s offices.

If that annoys you when you do that, then as the doctor said, don’t do that — just use the ((generally) awkward) “Norman genitive” instead:

  • Cake is the favorite food of all the queens of England.
  • The offices of the attorneys general.
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