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I want to talk to someone about the house that my wife and I own. Saying, for example, "My wife's and my house is awesome," sounds a bit funny to me. What's the best way to express this?

Clarification

I'm asking specifically about the grammar of multiple nouns in possessive form. I'm particularly curious if it's possible to do this with a first-person pronoun (me). I am capable of rephrasing this in other ways - my question is not how to express the idea, but about this particular grammatical construction, if it is even legal.

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Is there some reason you're avoiding the word our? Are you just wanting to specific who exactly is included in the ownership? –  Dusty Jan 11 '11 at 20:48
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How about "my wife and I's"? (^_^) –  RegDwigнt Jan 11 '11 at 21:07
    
I know I can use alternative phrasing, like "our house" or "the house owned by my wife and I," but what I'm asking about is if there's a correct way to put two nouns into mutual possessive form, with one of the nouns being myself. "There is no way to do this" is a legitimate answer - I just don't know what's considered correct. –  Tyler Jan 11 '11 at 21:49
    
It gets worse when you want to talk about a plural noun, like "My wife's and my children". :-) –  Tragicomic Jan 12 '11 at 8:47
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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As far as I know, most style guides advise against this and say there is no acceptable solution without rephrasing the sentence, as most answers here have rightly done.

If the second possessor had been a noun, you could have stuck the possessive onto the second noun only. Note that this applies only if both possessors possess the same house together:

my sister and her husband's house

This is what the Chicago Manual of Style seems to suggest. I'd rephrase that too, though.

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Thanks - based on this answer (and the link you gave) it seems like "My wife and my house" is considered the most correct phrasing. Unfortunately, that could easily be confused as talking about both my wife and my house. My wife and my house can be found in California. Is my wife in California? –  Tyler Jan 12 '11 at 22:37
    
@Tyler: Haha, good example. With "my" twice, it would indeed be unusable. –  Cerberus Jan 12 '11 at 22:51
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How about:

The house my wife and I own is awesome.

This, of course, assumes no preamble where your wife (or just the fact that your married) is mentioned.

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If not using the collective "our", this seems like the best usage, though you could also say "the house that my wife and I own is awesome". –  Zoot Jan 11 '11 at 22:27
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Another way to refer to this would be to make two phrases and avoid the confusion.

My wife and I own a house. It's awesome.

If you truly wanted to use a plural possessive, you could, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with any of the forms that have been presented. They all feel clumsy.

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You typically put yourself last, like so:

"My wife's and my house is awesome."

That's what I say. But I don't propose that as authoritative...it tends to imply a second subject "my wife's" (my wife's what?).

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This is the simple direct answer to the question. It is what most English speakers would say who have not been tainted by prescriptivist teaching. And the fact that the authorities suggest avoiding the construction at all indicates that the rules they are teaching simply don't work. –  Colin Fine Jan 12 '11 at 18:20
    
Thanks for this note. I accepted the Cerberus answer mainly because of the Chicago Manual of Style reference, which has some weight. In the end, it seems that there's no "non-funny-sounding" way to phrase this, which I think is interesting, as a sort of weak point in the language. –  Tyler Jan 12 '11 at 22:29
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Why not do it like Madness and say "Our house"?

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......in the middle of the street....... –  Zoot Jan 11 '11 at 22:25
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I would use "Mine and my wife's house" which is--I think--a good compromise between clarity (and style) and strict grammatical formalism

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I would not recommend this. It is not grammatical to do so. Now, if you said "I could say" instead of I would use, then I can imagine this as having colloquial value. –  virmaior Jan 9 at 7:48
    
I could say "I could say", but I actually would say "Mine and my wife's house" in the given situation :) –  colinro Jan 9 at 9:05
    
But the important feature in what I'm suggesting is the say. Would you also write it? If not, why use use rather than say? –  virmaior Jan 9 at 13:39
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