Should I put a comma before and after "Luke's"?

Thank you for considering us for your cat Luke’s grooming needs.


You're better off leaving it as-is. The commas are not needed, and would be inappropriate because they would create a false appositive, linking a plain noun (cat) with a possessive one (Luke's).

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Oh, boy. There isn't really a way to do this correctly. I'd say either

  1. Thank you for considering us for Luke's grooming needs


  1. Thank you for considering us for the grooming needs of your cat, Luke.

(Unless they have more than one cat, in which case there's no comma.)

(The second, though correct, is rather awkward.)

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  • I disagree. The OP's sentence without commas is perfect as it is in what is clearly a rather informal commercial communication, and not a communication between lawyers or, worse, grammarians. It's more explicit than your first suggestion (imagine if Luke's owner had been so ashamed of simply calling the cat "Puss" that she'd invented and promptly forgotten the name "Luke" after filling out the form with the details). And your second suggestion is awkward, as you say. Would you really nevertheless prefer it to the OP's sentence? – Lachlan Dominic Feb 26 '15 at 12:58
  • You're absolutely right; I wasn't considering register. That said, I myself get mildly annoyed when I receive communications with such locutions as the OP's; I am, however, a recovering grammar Nazi. I suppose it all depends on how the OP meant "should"--does she intend "I want to give this sentence unimpeachable grammar; should I..." or "I want to make sure this sentence accords with generally accepted mores of communication; should I..." I assumed the latter, not accounting for the possibility of the former. – Joel Derfner Feb 27 '15 at 8:18
  • I know exactly where you're coming from (been there myself)! For me, the absence of a canonical grammar (no académie anglaise) is what makes English such a joy. The ground shifts under our feet, but at the same time we remain constrained by a need to avoid ambiguity, a reluctance to give ground to usages born out of linguistic misconceptions, and so on. English grammar isn't a set of rules, but a game where proficient players are flexible and respectful (of other players and of the game itself), and where it's seldom a useful strategy to abstract from context and register. – Lachlan Dominic Mar 2 '15 at 11:52
  • In any case, it strikes me that "your cat" + restrictive appositive "Luke" creates a noun phrase that is atomic in character and that we can turn into a possessive without any soul searching. Should we think twice about "Brother James's Air", "my friend Flicka's tail", etc.? – Lachlan Dominic Mar 2 '15 at 13:30
  • Well, I always assumed "Brother" in "Brother James's Air" was a monastic title, which upon reflection I see is utterly unjustified. And "my friend Flicka's tail" strikes me as off. Then again, I have no problem saying "[I went to] my friend Josh's house." Though again it's an issue of register. I would never write that in anything formal. À bas l'académie anglaise! – Joel Derfner Mar 3 '15 at 12:32

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