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To mention possessions, how many possessive nouns and possessives are we allowed to have in a sentence. Is it right to say?:

Jack's father's mother's brother's house

marked as duplicate by Lawrence, user140086, Hellion, tchrist, Nathaniel May 3 '16 at 20:29

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  • It is always better to replace a string of names of relatives with terms that define the relation. "jack's father's uncle" or "jack's grandma's brother's" sound better than "Jack's father's mother's brother's." – vickyace May 2 '16 at 10:37
  • 2
    You can have as many terms as are needed to convey your thoughts. – vickyace May 2 '16 at 10:41
  • It's a sound-muddling sentence, which no one would every say or write unless they wanted to prove a point. A much better equivalent would be: Jack's grand uncle's house. Or "The house belonging to [Jack] his grandmother's brother." – Mari-Lou A May 2 '16 at 10:50
  • Confusing, but technically correct. (But it's "right to say", not "write to say".) – Hot Licks May 2 '16 at 11:56
  • @vickyace: If you tell your new girlfriend "My grand uncle is coming to visit us. My grand uncle spent 20 years in jail for murderning his grand nephew's girlfriend" then it would better to tell her that these are two different people, or she might become your ex-girlfriend within a second. – gnasher729 May 2 '16 at 15:18

Any amount of possession is specifiable, length and saying it might prove harder.

In these roundabout cases, try to find the closest person/relationship that can define the relation/posession. If that's not too simple, then try to summarize, be more concise.

Without knowing any additional detail, I'd shorten it to (The) House of Jack's relatives. Or what Andrew Symonds proposed, though i do not agree with his view completely.


It's difficult. It's not wrong or confusing, just difficult to understand, and you wouldn't say it without a good reason. Replacing "father's mother" with "grandmother" or "father's mother's brother" with "grand uncle" removes information; this might not be acceptable. For example:

"Jack inherited houses from two grand uncles; but his father's mother's brother's house was worth a lot more than his mother's father's brother's house".

Or better: "Jack inherited houses from two grand uncles; but the house of his father's mother's brother was worth a lot more than the house of his mother's father's brother".

Or better yet: "Jack inherited houses from two grand uncles; but the brother of his father's mother left him a much more valuable house than the brother of his mother's father did".

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