If I run a company for children, do I run

  1. a children's company
  2. a children company
  3. a childrens company

I originally thought "children's company" was correct but the children are not in possession of the company as the apostrophe would suggest.

  • 4
    I don't believe that this is a duplicate. In the question linked, the confusion is about the possession of the subject of the sentence and whether the apostrophe comes before or after the s when the subject is a plural. My question is about whether the apostrophe belongs in my sentence at all. – user2635139 Aug 29 '16 at 11:56
  • How are the children involved, you said they don't own the company. I benevolently assume they don't work in the company, so you produce something for them, do you offer a service? – Helmar Aug 29 '16 at 13:47
  • It's the same as "an old people's home" where "old people's" is an attributive genitive, (note the genitive marking). Strange 'company' by the way! – BillJ Aug 29 '16 at 14:02
  • It's the same as "an old people's home" where "old people's" is an attributive genitive, (note the genitive marking). Attributive genitive NPs function as modifiers to nouns. Strange 'company' by the way! – BillJ Aug 29 '16 at 14:06
  • As a related example, both Cincinnati and Seattle have a Children's Hospital, and probably other cities. Note that both are named Children-apostrophe-s Hospital. – cobaltduck Aug 29 '16 at 15:48

Noting first that it would be correct to say both Cincinnati and Seattle have Children's Hospitals, how sure is anyone that however widely the form is used, Children's Hospital is in fact the name? I ask because "everyone knows" the most famous children's hospital in the world is Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital… only it's not. It's The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children

Without having too much idea what "a company for children" means I suggest it is not the same as "an old people's home" unless it is literally a children's home.

Acknowledging that there should be no grammatical difference between a "children's home" or the more widely-encountered "children's charity" or, yes, a "children's company" I seriously suggest that idiom overrides that.

Going back a way, a tobacconist's shop is often called a "supplier of smokers' requisites" but when was the last time anybody called one "a smoker's shop"?

The normal usage would be none of the above but rather to name whatever is actually being produced or sold: a toy shop; a school uniform factory; a stationery supplier; a cycle shop; a sweet shop…

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  • Thanks, tchrist, both for the trouble and for showing me that kind of editing page existed… Please, though, what gives you the idea ‘difference’ must be followed by ‘between’ or that there is no ‘rule-of-three rule’? Where is it written that words can't change their meanings, or more importantly, change them back? – Robbie Goodwin Apr 22 '17 at 15:19

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