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Possible Duplicate:
“User's guide” vs. “users' guide”

If referring to a Users Group (meaning a group made up of multiple individual users who have some control of the group itself), would you use:

  • A: User’s
  • B: Users’
  • C: Users

I have read the post on the User’s guide but in this case, plural is appropriate since the group does not belong to one individual.

Wikipedia suggests Users’ (or Users) and in my domain, a leading stats software company has a Users Group, though they then use user’s group as part of the description.

What do you think — A, B, or C?

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Matt Эллен, Jim, KitFox Aug 1 '12 at 16:04

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@FumbleFingers The problem with that “possible duplicate” question is that it doesn’t lead to discussion of the increasing acceptance of things like farmers markets and teachers unions. I suppose one could add such there. In this case, though, the easier answer is just to call them a user group, with user used attributively and not needing a plural at all. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 21:33
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@tchrist: It's not obvious to me why Farmer Market and Teacher Union should sit badly with practically everyone. And I suspect most people don't fancy Owner Handbook either, despite the fact that at any one time there's only one relevant owner. Whereas no-one really has a problem with User Guide, so far as I know. Then again, perhaps I've led a sheltered life. –  FumbleFingers Jul 31 '12 at 21:44

2 Answers 2

In 'The Cambridge Guide to English Usage' Pam Peters identifies 'plural nouns which express affiliation' as one of the kinds of expression in which the apostrophe is disappearing. She gives the examples teachers college and senior citizens centre. Much will depend on the conventions in force within any particular group, but I cannot see that the apostrophe adds anything in such cases. So, for me, Users group.

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Very succinctly put, Barrie. We have, as an example, the Manchester & Cheshire Dogs' Home but the Birmingham Dogs Home in the UK. Also Bethnal Green Working Men's Club but Daventry Working Mens Club. One can buy one's children's clothing in the Childrens Clothing Department of a department store. Interestingly, this means that mens, childrens ... are now accepted words. Though apparently not accepted by Andrew (see below). –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '12 at 21:20
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@EdwinAshworth Saying mens and childrens are “accepted words” just because some peoples ideas of possessives spellings leave something to be desired makes nearly as much sense as the US governments position that there can only ever be five cities names in America with possessive apostrophes in them. –  tchrist Jul 31 '12 at 21:30
    
There’s one station on the London underground called Barons Court and another called Earl’s Court. In the John Lewis restaurant in Reading (Berkshire, UK) the counters have signs above them showing the kind of food served. One says CHILDRENS. –  Barrie England Jul 31 '12 at 21:31
    
@Edwin Ashworth: Most people still write an apostrophe when referring to stores/supermarkets, but I've no doubt this "egg bought at tescos" was one particular egg, bought at one particular store. Apropos which - I can understand why we don't say Waitrose's, but why is it so often Tesco's, Marks and Spencer's, etc. (Sainsbury's even write that on their trucks), yet I've never heard Fine Fair's, Spar's, Iceland's. Lidl's I'm not sure about, but it sounds odd to me. Dunno why that is. –  FumbleFingers Jul 31 '12 at 21:35
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@FumbleFingers: Marks, Spencer, John Lewis, Debenham and Sainsbury were all real people who owned the stores, which may explain the apostrophe-s. Even Tesco is named after T.E.Stockwell and Jack Cohen. Fine Fare, Spar, Iceland and Lidl are (as far as I know) not the names of their original owners. –  Andrew Leach Aug 1 '12 at 15:41

If you're not going to use User Group (which is customary and which I wholeheartedly prefer), then for a group collectively owned/controlled by a plural number of users you need a plural possessive. Users’ Group.

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In deciding between Users' (or Users if the apostrophe is not conventionally necessary) and User group, does the extent of possession matter? For instance, the latter suggests a group made up of people who are deemed a 'User' of a particular product. In the group I am referring to, ownership of the group belongs to the collection of users. Is the singular 'user' OK in this instance? It sounds strange to me but then I'm a Brit in the US suffering from many grammatical inconsistencies while raising US english speaking kids. –  ams Aug 1 '12 at 15:33
    
Working in IT in England, I find User Group is far more common than any other form. If it's going to be "Users" then I believe the apostrophe is necessary to distinguish users' from user's (even though a group for a single user would not be the most helpful affair). I know I was taught English by a reactionary pedant; perhaps some of it rubbed off after all. –  Andrew Leach Aug 1 '12 at 15:45

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