If there is a restaurant called Johnny's, how would you turn that into a possessive?

For example if I want to ask about the pasta at Johnny's, would I say

  • "How is Johnny's's pasta"
  • "How is Johnny's pasta"
  • Something else I can't think of
  • One answer given in the previous thread was 'Ask the proprietor'. There are some ornery folk out there, like the proprietor of "The Misplaced Apostrophe's". – Edwin Ashworth Apr 19 '14 at 19:59

"Johnny's's" is not correct. In fact, I think there probably isn't a correct way to use the Saxon genitive here. There are several ways to express the sentiment though:

  • How is the pasta at Johnny's
  • How is Johnny's restaurant's pasta?
  • How is Johnny's pasta?

This last one is interesting. It can be interpreted two different ways. Either you are breaking out the restauranteur's name, presumably Johnny's is eponymous for the chef, so you are asking how is the chef's pasta. Or alternatively, we can use apposition here to imply the extra genitive relationship.

Me? I'd chose the first one. It is simplest.

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  • Your authority for saying ' "Johnny's's" is not correct'? Yes, most style guides advise against this double possessive, and it certainly looks ugly. I wouldn't use it. But does that make it 'incorrect'? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 19 '14 at 18:31
  • What about: How are the pizzas of Johnny's (restaurant)? – rogermue Apr 19 '14 at 19:16
  • @rogermue that would be the other standard genitive in English, but it sounds a little awkward to me. A preposition sounds more appropriate, such as "at" as suggested above. I actually think it is an interesting difference here. The problem with "of" here is that it is a little too soft, a little to inspecific. But the Saxon genitive would be more than adequately specific. So "Dominos' pizza" is perfectly fine but "pizza of Dominos" sounds odd. Using a more specific preposition "pizza from Dominos" sounds perfectly OK. It is strange how the semantic range of the two genitives is so different. – Fraser Orr Apr 21 '14 at 16:25

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