If there is a noun, then parenthesis or a comma, where should a 's go? For example:

The dog (who was very big)'s ears perked up.


The dog's (who was very big) ears perked up.


The dog's, who was very big, ears perked up.

or maybe just:

The very big dog's ears perked up.

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    The dog's ears (and he was very big) perked up. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 18 '15 at 16:23
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    What Edwin Ashworth says. This is trying to make the language do something she doesn't want. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 18 '15 at 16:28
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    In speech you can just about get away with things like "The man I married's father said he always was as obstinate as a mule", because you can indicate by prosody/cadence that the-man-I-married is a "compound noun" being treated as a single lexical unit to be modified by genitive 's. But without resorting to hyphenation, it's often difficult to make this usage work in a written context. – FumbleFingers Jan 18 '15 at 16:39
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    @FumbleFingers And in this case the relative clause is specifically designated as parenthetical, i.e. non-restrictive, so it's not part of the constituent. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 18 '15 at 16:42
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    @StoneyB: As Kosmonaut says in a very closely related question, people may have different opinions about which of these types of constructions they would allow (to be "collectively" modified by the Saxon genitive). But my guess is that almost all native speakers would be at least slightly more accepting of whatever they consider "marginal" usages in speech rather than in writing. – FumbleFingers Jan 18 '15 at 16:51

Your first one is questionable.

Your second two are justifiable, but awkward. They're probably the closest thing to an answer to the question of "what is the correct way to use a parenthetical clause about a subject while using the subject in the genitive?" but they're still awkward.

Your last does the best by rephrasing to make the issue go away.

So too would:

The dog's ears perked up.

In-between those two ways of avoiding the issue entirely would be:

The dog's ears (he was very big) perked up.

The dog's ears (and he was very big) perked up.

The dog's ears perked up. He was very big.

  • "The dog's ears ([and] he was very big) perked up" seems quite awkward to me, especially in spoken language. – NotThatGuy Mar 17 at 11:19

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