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Consider a person whose name is "Lehman".

In the sentence

"I read Lehman's documents."

why is it "Lehman's" and not "Lehmans' " ?

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closed as general reference by Andrew Leach, Cerberus, Hellion, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Kristina Lopez May 30 '13 at 22:10

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The usual rule applies here - just add 's to the end of the word. The word is Lehman so the possessive form is Lehman's. There is no Lehmans to worry about in this example.

Perhaps you're confused by the fact that it's documents rather than document? It's still Lehman's in both cases. It would be Lehmans' if there were two people called Lehman and the documents belonged to both of them.

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Thank you for your quick reply. I always thought adding 's only applies as a short form for "is" ? –  marc wellman May 30 '13 at 18:43
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Nope. Adding 's can be either possessive or be a short form for is. It's a source of much confusion, especially when you come to the distinction between its and it's. But that's one for another day... :-) –  John Wickerson May 30 '13 at 18:45
    
OK, Thank you very much for your kind help! –  marc wellman May 30 '13 at 18:47
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luckily I am not confused about its and it's (at least I hope so); it's only the possessive that gives me a hard time over and over again (see, I've used it correct right now - didn't I?) ;-) –  marc wellman May 30 '13 at 18:50
    
It's worth noting that earlier in English's history the genitive was marked in many cases by adding es. The apostrophe started as an elision of the e so Lehmanes became Lehman's. Now, we never use the es form any more, and we use 's in cases where historically we wouldn't have used es either, so it's moved on from this origin. But, many people find it's a bit less mysterious once they know how it came to be used. –  Jon Hanna May 31 '13 at 11:01
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