1

Say I have a gym instructor called Anne and it's her birthday. I want to convey that to someone who doesn't know who Anne is in one sentence.

In speech, I would probably say, "it is Anne, my gym instructor's, birthday." But, in writing, that seems wrong; it puts the possessive "s" in the subclause only.

So what is the correct way to write a sentence like this? "It is Anne's, my gym instructor's, birthday"? "It is Anne's, my gym instructor, birthday"? Something else?

  • 2
    It is the birthday of Anne, my gym instructor :) – Oliver Mason Jun 8 '18 at 13:54
  • 1
    But seriously, there's nothing wrong with the possessive at the end of the subclause. Compare The king of England's crown, where the -s is at the end of the noun group. – Oliver Mason Jun 8 '18 at 13:57
  • I don't think you should have a comma after Anne if you're going to use that as part of a longer string of words to be modified by the Saxon genitive apostrophe. Which by implication means you don't want the comma after the apostrophe either. – FumbleFingers Jun 8 '18 at 14:00
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Possessive form of coordinated noun phrases? – FumbleFingers Jun 8 '18 at 16:43
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers I believe this question is a duplicate of the first post you mentioned - although having no upvotes on the answer is a shame - but not the second. – Tim Barclay Jun 8 '18 at 20:21
5

There's nothing wrong with the possessive marker at the end. Compare The king of England's crown, where the -s is at the end of the noun group.

It does sound a bit more awkward if you have a whole apposition following the head noun, but syntactically it looks fine to me.

Or you could write It is my gym instructor Anne's birthday.

  • Perhaps I'm mistaken but I always deem it correct to put a description of a person in a new clause within commas: "Edward, the King of England, has a crown". So in that instance, would it be "Edward, the King of England's, crown"? – Tim Barclay Jun 8 '18 at 20:25
  • @TimBarclay Yes, I would think so. – Oliver Mason Jun 11 '18 at 8:19

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.