In the following sentence, how would I indicate possession if the word "business'" were replaced by the name of the business: like "Fry's" or "Wendy's"?

Some business' employees are happy.

It seems strange to say that Wendy's employees are happy, since I'm referring to the business, and not just Wendy.

marked as duplicate by TimLymington, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, Misti, Mitch Jul 20 '15 at 16:05

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Fwiw, I favor the older style, e.g. "We had supper with the Joneses" but "We had supper at the Jones's", So my preference would be "Some businesses' employees are happy." "This business's employees are happy." – Glasseyed Jul 18 '15 at 1:09
  • 1
    @Glasseyed I think the OP means how to write it if [business] is replaced by the name of the business and that name already includes an apostrophe: like McDonald's. How should you refer to McDonald's's employees? (Not like that.) – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 1:11
  • My bad. In the case of a company name that ends in a possessive apostrophe, I don't see any reason for a plural apostrophe, so simply "McDonald's employees, Wendy's employees." Yah? Nah? – Glasseyed Jul 18 '15 at 1:56
  • http://bit.ly/1HLzlKG – Jimmy Jul 20 '15 at 16:20

I would just say some Wendy's employees are happy. that construction does not take the possessive; compare some Stackexchange employees are happy (not * some Stackexchange's employees are happy).

The noun would have to be possessive if you were to add of, as in some of Stackexchange's employees are happy. The solution, of course, is not to add of.

In other contexts where the possessive is actually needed, I would probably just use the company's name as is, even though it isstrictly speaking illogical, or rephrase, if it is not too cumbersome:

Wendy's most popular menu item is ...

The most popular item on the menu at Wendy's is ...

  • What I was groping for. Well said. :-) – Glasseyed Jul 18 '15 at 2:00
  • 1
    You're exactly right. In the "Wendy's employees" and "Stackexchange employees" examples, both "Wendy's" and "Stackexchange" are being used as nominal attributes, nouns that come before other nouns and modify them. – GoldenGremlin Jul 18 '15 at 2:40
  • 1
    In the former, "Wendy's" is being used as a name (of a chain restaurant), not as a normal possessive (the possessive has been 'frozen' into the name, so to speak). – GoldenGremlin Jul 18 '15 at 2:46
  • The question was about the possessive not the adjective though. Or are you saying the possessive is never necessary? – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 10:25
  • 1
    bit.ly/1HLzlKG – Jimmy Jul 20 '15 at 16:18

I suggest simply:

Some employees of Wendy's are happy.

to avoid the problem altogether. Otherwise, I think it would have to be "Some of Wendy's employees are happy" (to be possessive) and that does give the impression that they are employees of Wendy, not of Wendy's the company, as you say.

That said, the possessive of McDonald's is frequently referred to as McDonald's https://www.google.com/search?q=%22of+McDonald%27s+customers%22 (but mostly by journalists and not by McDonald's themselves).

For example http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/dissatisfied-mcdonalds-customers-return-fast-food-loyalty-survey_n_2504951.html:

...22 percent of McDonald's customers said...

Perhaps that is simply because McDonald's is so famous that nobody is concerned about any misunderstanding that that means "the customers of McDonald". However, originally, it would have meant "the customers of [the] McDonald [family]" so it is not completely misleading if taken to mean that anyway.

I think the rule would be that, as McDonald's is already a possessive, no further apostrophes are needed to talk about its possessions. It can be read as meaning something slightly different to what is intended now that the possessive is a proper noun in its own right but McDonald's' would be regarded as wrong so it's the only option there is (or to avoid it by using McDonald's as adjective rather than possessive).

  • Compare: Samsung projects that the average hourly wage rate for Samsung employees ... No need for the possessive. – phoog Jul 18 '15 at 1:55
  • 1
    Could you use a double apostrophe? e.g. McDonald's' employees are happy. – Dog Lover Jul 18 '15 at 2:11
  • @DogLover You could but most people would consider it an error. – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 10:29
  • @phoog You're quite right. It's a bad example. – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 10:50

You could add the registered trademark symbol to it so it doesn't look like the employees belong to someone named Wendy rather than the actually franchise


Regardless, Wendy's is already possessive, but it isn't used so. It's used as an adjective to describe "employees".

Good employees

[Business name here] employees

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