Would it just be considered a compound noun or is there another name for it?

And even though surgeons is plural, would it still take 's to make the possessive (i.e. the Royal College of Surgeons's dinner party vs the Royal College of Surgeons' dinner party)?

  • 1
    It's not a noun, it's a noun phrase. Note that -'s can well be added to a nominal phrase as a whole, sometimes it can be added even to a whole clause: "the girl I saw yesterday's phone number".
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


It is a proper name - an expression which has been conventionally adopted as the name of a particular entity (CaGEL p515). These differ from proper nouns in that they have the status of noun phrases: they are not just a single noun like Thames which cannot be used in places where a noun phrase would be required like subject or object.

When in the genitive case, proper names with post-head dependents are phrasal genitives because the genitive marking is located on the last word of the post head dependent of Surgeons, and not on the head noun College (CaGEL p479).

Since the genitive is associated with the regular noun surgeons, the bare genitive is obligatory - just the apostrophe with no s following (CaGEL p481).

  • Thanks--just to confirm, your comment that since the genitive is associated with surgeons, it would just be an apostrophe, that isn't specific to American English? Also, I tried to find your reference--CaGEL--but had no luck, can you clarify the source?
    – Tlm
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 11:19
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    CaGEL is the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey Pullum and collaborators. The two main authors are British linguists so it's not just for American English.
    – DW256
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 11:24
  • Sonny Stewart and the Dynamos is a similar example. I assume that The Legion and the Lioness would take apostrophe-s were one to insist on using the Saxon genitive. // What does CGEL call the usage of mens say in working mens clubs (now more common, I believe, than the older apostrophised version)? Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 11:59

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