Let's say I've put forward an idea to a number of people and each person has several different objections to it.

I know I can say:

What are each individual's objections?
- OR -
What are the objections for each of them?

But can I say:

What are each of them's objections?

It sounds awkward, but is it wrong? I don't want to say:

What are each of their objections?

Because the "their" in that sentence refers to all the people and therefore all the objections. What I want is to ask for the objections grouped by person.

Also can I say:

What are each's objections?

  • 2
    No, the possessive of "them" is not "them's", it's "their". – Marthaª Oct 17 '13 at 16:17
  • No You can't say them's or each's. The reason you give for not using their makes sense, but that reason no longer applies once you have changed it to each of their objections (as you have suggested). Least ambiguous would be each person's objections. – TrevorD Oct 17 '13 at 16:18
  • 1
    @Marthaª the possessive of them is their, but the possessive of each of them is not each of their. "Each of them's" is, of course, nonstandard, but other than that it's perfectly fine, which is why people produce it in the first place. We've covered that before. – RegDwigнt Oct 17 '13 at 17:13
  • 1
    The problem is that the possessive suffix cliticizes to the end of the noun phrase each of them, and saying each of their doesn't capture that bracketing correctly: each of their objections is parsed as [each [of their objections]] instead of [[each of their] objections]. – John Lawler Oct 17 '13 at 17:28

The best way to structure this statement will not only depend on the goal of the statement itself, but also on the body of text which surrounds it. In all cases, you must indicate who "they" or "them" are, either in this statement or another. Since here, I assume you are referring to a group of individuals, such must be identified in close proximity.

To directly answer your question, "them's" and 'each's" are not possessive forms, so no.

One suggestion might be:

What are the objections of each individual?


What are the objections of each? (Depending on how the individual was defined in the preceding text)

| improve this answer | |

I would suggest that, in the same way that 'anyone' is to 'any', 'each one' can be to 'each', so the following constructions probably provide the most succinct way of saying that you want a response giving objections listed against each person:

What are each one's objections? What are the objections for each one?

'Each' can be a pronoun as well as an adjective or adverb, but it appears that it doesn't have a possessive form, even though 'each's' is permissible according to standard English grammar - in the same way that you can create a past participle out of a verb infinitive by adding '-ed', as a weak verb, unless there is a strong verb alternative. As there is no strong alternative for the possessive of each, there's nothing stopping you putting an apostrophe 's' after 'each' to create a possessive form, except for it sounding awkward because it is not a form one hears in practice. The only thing that does stop you therefore is its strangeness on the ear, and grammar zealots stopping the evolution of the language!

| improve this answer | |

Perhaps you could use "What are each of your objections?"

If you use "each of them" you are referring to the individuals, not the objections that belong to them. Their is the plural possessive. Them is the objective case of the pronoun they. "Them's objections" wouldn't be grammatical.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    -1 Your answer changes the person to whom the question is addressed: you instead of them. What's wrong with each of their objections as proposed by OP? – TrevorD Oct 17 '13 at 16:21
  • Nothing, but op stated that he or she would not like to use it, so I simply provided an alternative. – Colin Oct 17 '13 at 20:19
  • OP actually asked "Can I say: ...?" about certain phrases. – TrevorD Oct 18 '13 at 11:43
  • Please see the following quote regarding op's preference to not use 'each of their objections'." I don't want to use: What are each of their objections? Because the "their" in that sentence refers to all the people and therefore all the objections. What I want is to ask for the objections grouped by person." In this case, because the op specifically states that the focus should be on each individual and not the group, using "your" would be a viable alternative. Finally op did not ask about the correctness of "each of their", but instead stated that he or she wished not to use it. – Colin Oct 18 '13 at 16:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.