The title I used was a rough example of the issue I'm having, but it's one I seem to have from time to time and haven't quite found the right answer, nor, the correct way to ask the question. That said, my question is best asked as an example.

"Healthy eating is, by most accounts, a necessary component of any person wanting to lose weight's exercise plan"

I know there are a number of different ways this could be rewritten to avoid this dilemma, but I'm specifically curious about how to solve this issue, where there is a necessary description of the possessor before the noun which it possesses.

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    If you don't want to correct the incorrect English, you may have painted yourself into a corner. Otherwise, could you use "wanting a weight loss exercise program" or "wanting to lose weight by exercising" (without the word 'plan') instead of your original? – Yosef Baskin Jun 19 '17 at 3:00
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    Rewrite it!! Sometimes when you're constructing a sentence you get started down a path and don't feel you can turn around, but you should, if the sentence gets long and confusing. There's no reason to not rewrite to "Healthy eating is, by most accounts, a necessary component of the exercise plan of any person wanting to lose weight." (Though with a little thought you can likely do better still.) – Hot Licks Jun 19 '17 at 3:00
  • No, I get that, and the example I used was, admittedly, not the best, but isn't there a correct way to do this? I've thought about the question quite a few times before, and it typically feels unnatural (in the colloquial sense) to rewrite it in another way. – jzg.dev Jun 19 '17 at 3:12

As per the comments from Yosef and Hot Licks, the best solution is a re-write.

However, there is a very ugly alternative: a hyphenated compound noun. Your example sentence would become:

"Healthy eating is, by most accounts, a necessary component of any person-wanting-to-lose-weight's exercise plan."

This is considerably less ugly in cases where only one hyphen is required, but even then it is unlikely to be preferable to a rewrite.

  • 1
    Haha ok, well thank you, you answered my question. I figured there had to be some sort of way to do it, and the answer makes sense, but is oh so terrible lol. – jzg.dev Jun 19 '17 at 8:09

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