How does one combine possession and appositive comma usage in one sentence?

  • 1
    I would hazard a guess that the answer is "You don't." – Kit Z. Fox Aug 28 '13 at 15:39
  • I'd agree - the alternatives, such as My friend (Tom) 's bike / My friend (Tom') s bike / My friend's (Tom) bike... are nightmarish. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '13 at 15:55

Why would you use the possessive for friend? In the first case, the subject is Tom which is modified by friend. You would therefore write

My friend Tom's object.

This sentence:

My friend's, Tom's object.

makes no sense, especially with that extra comma, but if you were to try and parse it, the meaning would be:

My friend has a "Tom's object" and I am referring to it.

You would need that comma if you were to write, for example:

My friend, Tom, has a green car.

  • 2
    OP is seeing the appositive as a parenthesis (hence the two commas) and thus My friend's bike would be the matrix phrase. However, the rule here is as given by Wikipedia: [T]he -'s morpheme can be attached finally to noun phrases, even if the head noun does not end the phrase. For example, the phrase the king of Spain can form the possessive the king of Spain's, and the phrase the man we saw yesterday can form the man we saw yesterday's.>> Here, 'My friend Tom' is treated as a single noun phrase. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '13 at 15:48
  • @EdwinAshworth Yes, that’s exactly correct: it’s a clitic that attaches to the entire NP, not to the head noun. Native speakers know this automatically, although for some reason ESL students often get the wrong idea about it. Not sure why. – tchrist Aug 28 '13 at 17:31
  • 2
    There is a difference between “My friend Tom” and “My friend, Tom”. The former is quite unproblematic to add clitics to; the latter impossible (in writing). The real solution is to recast the phrase to avoid having to cliticise it at all: “The bike that belongs to my friend, Tom” or the likes. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 28 '13 at 19:49

My friend Tom's object. ( object can be aim, goal OR it could be a material thing)

You don't need commas.

  • See Janus Bahs Jacquet's comment. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '13 at 22:40

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