Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We have something going to print today, but everyone in the office is arguing as to where to correctly place the apostrophe in the sentence (if at all!)

The sentence is:

Bring your event into the palm of your guests hand

share

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Assuming you're referring to a single "guest", the possessive apostrophe should come before the s:

Bring your event into the palm of your guest's hand.

But I have a suspicion that guests was meant to be plural (because of the context). In that case, you should pluralize palm, hand and guest, and put the apostrophe after the last s in guests:

Bring your event into the palms of your guests' hands.

share
    
PS either way, I'm not sure the poetic attempt is wholly successful here. You might be better off with Bring your event to the tips of your guests' fingers. –  Daniel Oct 11 '12 at 14:35
    
I have seen in print, in a more recent reference I cannot find right now, that in the most modern parlance, even words - including plurals - that end in s that 's should still be added, Jesus being the only exception: Jesus', but Otis's, James's, guests's. –  shipr Oct 11 '12 at 14:39
2  
I have certainly seen singular names ending in s getting an 's tacked on the end, but never a plural noun. Guests's is simply Smeagolish. –  Daniel Oct 11 '12 at 14:42

"Guest's". From the fact that "palm" and "hand" are singular, you are apparently talking about only one guest. (Well, one guest at a time.) So to make "guest" possessive, we follow the basic rule of adding an apostrophe and an "s".

share

Yeah, you need an apostrophe, and I'd say it should be "guests'". Generally, one has events for more than one guest, which is why I suggest plural. But the idiom is "in the palm of your hand". Use the singular when everyone being referred to has one (in this case, only one is operative regardless of the fact that most everyone has two). [I'm sure that I read this advice in a Grammar Girl tip.] Otherwise, the sentence is saying something ambiguous: "in the palms of their hands".

You wouldn't want to say "Place your powder on the lesions in your patients' mouths" (each patient has but one mouth and may have only a single lesion in that one mouth) but "Place the tablet on the lesion in a patient's mouth".

So maybe you'd want to say it another way: Bring your event into the palm of each guest's hand.

Not using an apostrophe is probably not unheard of: Mothers Day, Ladies Room, and a few other standard usages argue for no apostrophe in certain cases. But I don't think this is one of those.

share

This site is currently not accepting new answers.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .