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Say I was giving a presentation to representatives from the offices of the Attorneys General of several states. How would I describe that meeting and why? I think it is the below, but am not sure whether it should be Generals' or Attorneys' or what. And I have no idea why.

Meeting with State Attorneys General's Offices.

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    There is probably a "correct" way of using an apostrophe, but to get it out of the way, I'll suggest recasting the sentence to "Meeting with the offices of the State Attorneys-General". That doesn't answer the question, though. – Andrew Leach Feb 22 '18 at 18:09
  • Should it be States' Attorney's General Offices? So confused. – Erik H. Feb 22 '18 at 19:03
  • Your existing suggestion is correct, but it might confuse people who don't understand correct when they see it. You do, so that's hardly your fault that they do not. :) – tchrist Feb 22 '18 at 22:54
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There are two questions here:

  1. What is the plural of State Attorney General?
  2. How to express the possessive of that plural?

I can offer a rule for Question 1. Is the person a state, an attorney, or a general? He or she is an attorney, so the plural goes with that noun. In the UK military there is a rank of Major General. What is the plural? Apply the rule: a Major General is a General not a Major, so the plural is Major Generals.

Another couple of UK examples. An important ceremonial post in a county is the Lord Lieutenant. Plural: Lord Lieutenants because, applying the rule, they are lieutenants, not lords. The politicians nominally in charge of the Treasury are each called a Lord Commissioner. Plural: in that case they are lords as well as commissioners, so the plural is Lords Commissioners.

As to Question 2, the issue is really how pedantic you want to be. Ultra pedantic: State Attorneys' General. In less pedantic real life, I do not believe anyone would actually say that, so the apostrophe would go after General.

Capitalisation is a style guide matter not grammar. Some would not capitalise any such titles. Some would follow, out of courtesy, any official guidance, such as the relevant legislation.

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Since "State Attorney General" is a title, and the plural would be "State Attorneys General".

To remove the confusion with the apostrophe I would recommend phrasing the sentence this way; "meeting with the offices of several State Attorneys General"

The "office" in in full is referred to as the Office of the Attorney General, so to have office come before general makes sense.

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