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?

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    It is the birthday of Anne, my gym instructor :) – Oliver Mason Jun 8 '18 at 13:54
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    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
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    Possible duplicate of Possessive form of coordinated noun phrases? – FumbleFingers Jun 8 '18 at 16:43
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    @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

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
  • << Anne, my gym instructor's, birthday >> and << The king of England's crown >> are different forms. We're guessing if we model one's behaviour on the other's. Have you a corroborating reference for 'There's nothing wrong with the possessive marker at the end '? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 18 '20 at 18:04

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