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Bloomingdale's has a summer collection. Whose is it? Bloomingdale's's?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, sumelic, Kristina Lopez, Hot Licks, NVZ Apr 8 '16 at 21:32

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  • Technically this is a duplicate of the following question: How to use possessive form for proper nouns that already have an apostrophe But that question is itself marked as a duplicate (incorrectly, in my view) of Possessive Form of a Proper Noun Ending in a Plural Noun Ending in “s”?. I hope the answers there are of some use to you. – sumelic Apr 8 '16 at 19:39
  • To begin with, is the business known as Bloomingdale or Bloomingdales? If the former, the first sentence requires no apostrophe and no s. (Bloomingdale has a summer collection) If the latter then again no apostrophe is needed and the verb should be have. (Bloomingdales have a summer collection) – WS2 Apr 8 '16 at 19:40
  • When it comes to the summer collection, it is either Bloomingdale's summer collection or Bloomingdales' summer collection. – WS2 Apr 8 '16 at 19:47
  • "The stuff that belongs to Bloomingdale's." – Hot Licks Apr 8 '16 at 19:54
  • @sumelic The re-post has at least had the benefit of John Lawler's putting into perspective of the arguments that occur over 'rules' of punctuation. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 8 '16 at 21:45

Bryan Garner addresses this, asking "How does one make a possessive of the noun McDonald's? Literally, it would be McDonald's's, as in Try McDonald's's dinner combos! But good phrasing requires the dinner combos at McDonald's. It is also quite defensible to write McDonald's dinner combos, with the name functioning as a possessive." At the magazine where I work, we face this situation quite often, and we always opt to recast the sentence, per Garner's first suggestion. Often, the possessive noun can serve as an adjective: McDonald's shares were down today (similar to Ikea shares were down today), for example, or, amid a longer passage of text in which the subject is understood, the word McDonald's can be changed to the company or some such: The company's founders. In short, at least according to Garner, Bloomingdale's's is not out of the realm of possibility, but it is probably best avoided, and, in my experience, it generally is. I don't recall ever seeing anything like Bloomingdale's's.


Like all punctuation questions, this one

  a. has no clear answer, since "the vast individual differences in punctuation of English suggest
      that writers use a multitude of contradictory rules in their punctuation; and that there is no
      reason to expect this situation to change soon."


  b. applies only to written, not to real (i.e, spoken) English.
      In either case, no matter how many apostrophes and s's one employs orthographically,
      the words will be pronounced the same as they would without them, viz,

  • /'blumɪŋˌdelz/ and /mɨk'danɨldz/

This is an example of how irrelevant apostrophes are. We never use them in speech, and yet we're never confused; until it becomes time to write them down. Clearly they can be dispensed with.

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