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Is it Unions' Assassins' Guild or Union's Assassins' Guild?

If my English serves me, I think both are right but have slightly different meanings. Can someone shed some light?

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2 Answers 2

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The only difference is that in the first, Unions' has the apostrophe (') after the s (Unions'), and in the second, the apostrophe comes before the s (Union's). The difference in meaning is that when the apostrophe comes after the s, it signifies a plural possessive (more than one Union), whereas when it comes before the s, it signifies the singular (one Union). Presumably the Guild's name refers to only one Union, so the second would be more appropriate.

Edit: I must point out an oversight of mine - as per FumbleFinger's post, Union should probably not have an apostrophe or s at all. Also, Assassins doesn't need to be possessive.

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Yes, none of what you say is actually untrue - but personally I think the general principle of "less is more" should always be the default. Since it's valid (and in fact common practice) not to have any apostrophes at all here, it's better to tell OP that, and let him only worry about using apostrophes in those contexts where he actually needs them. –  FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 1:27

Lots of Student Unions have Assassins Guilds, and if we suppose that at least some of those students know or are being taught basic English, we should be able to assume they know how to punctuate the names of their own organisations.

In almost every single instance directly connected to an Assassins Guild, it's just like that (no apostrophes). One exception I noticed was City University London Assassins' Guild - but City doesn't have much of a reputation imho, and I see they say that page will be "seen by 1000's of students", so they obviously like apostrophes (I and most others would simply use 1000s there).

In principle you could have an apostrophe after Unions, or apostrophe+s after Union to indicate "owned by/associated with", but it's grammatically valid (and far more common) to use Union as a noun functioning as adjective, so it just identifies the particular [type/instance of] Assassins Guild being referenced.

Thus even if OP is writing of several such guilds, he can simply call them Union Assassins Guilds - there's no need to pluralise or apostrophise Union, and imho it would be clumsy/stilted to do so.

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+1 - Just did that same research ;) –  Jim Mar 12 '12 at 1:03
    
@Jim: haha sorry if I pipped you at the post then! I was just going to put a comment on Daniel's answer to the effect that no apostrophes are either required or imho actually desirable, but when I Googled Union Assassins Guild and noticed CU London's aberrant usage, I couldn't resist writing an answer just so I could take a pop at them! Not that it's a bad place, I'm sure, but it doesn't really have the prestige of some other institutions. –  FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 1:22

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