In the following instances of possessive, genitive:


It has taken Dan's father's breath away.

Is the possessive grammatically, correctly used?

or should it be:

It has taken Dan's father breath away.

We have 2 possessives here: first, the father of Dan, and next the breath of the father...


In the following instance:

The smoke was terrible for Dan's and everyone else's health.

or, better would be:

The smoke was terrible for Dan and everyone else's health.


  • Took Dan's father's breath away is fine, to me, and I think perfectly idiomatic. And I personally prefer the first of your 'health' sentences.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 28, 2018 at 2:28
  • These are two separate and unrelated questions. Both have been asked before. I can only close it as a duplicate of one question. You can use the site search to find the other.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 1, 2018 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Leaving out the possessive actually changes the meaning. You might think of each possessive as marking a successive inheritance. The father is Dan's. The breath is Dan's father's.

In the example of Dan's health, the change of meaning is trivial. In the example of Dan's father, the change is significant and likely confusing. Without the second possessive in that sentence, the reader should wonder what a 'father breath' is. The word 'father' reads as an adjective.

The preposition 'of' also indicates possession. If you just don't like double possessives, you can opt for the more common structure: It has taken away the breath of Dan's father. That said, this approach is no clearer than the other. But of course it may be easier to say.


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