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Here are three possible sentences. They are intended to convey compound possession—each user has his or her own separate account which has its own separate logs.

  1. I reviewed Mr. Smith's and Ms. Doe's account logs.
  2. I reviewed Mr. Smith's and Ms. Doe's accounts logs.
  3. I reviewed Mr. Smith's and Ms. Doe's accounts' logs.

My reasoning for each option (right or wrong) is as follows:

  • In #1, I believe that 'account' functions as an adjective modifying the type of logs.
  • In #2, I think that since there are two distinct accounts, the word should be plural (but am unclear on its relationship to 'logs').
  • In #3, each account possesses its own logs.

I know it is clearer to rewrite it to something such as:

I reviewed the logs for Mr. Smith's and Ms. Doe's accounts.

Even so, which of the above three are correct (if any)? Why?

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In US English, "account logs" is the most natural of those three options (though "account" is not an adjective, but rather an attributive noun). *"Accounts logs" is not grammatical in US English (because we don't use regular plural nouns as attributive nouns), though I believe that UK English allows it. (Disclaimer: I'm American.) "[Their] accounts' logs" is grammatical, but awkward; we don't usually think of an account (which is an inanimate and even rather abstract object) as possessing things.

Incidentally, we almost invariably say "Mr. Smith and Ms. Doe's [plural noun]" rather than "Mr. Smith's and Ms. Doe's [plural noun]", even when Mr. Smith and Ms. Doe have separate [noun]-s.

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