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Preferred way to apostrophise in case of dual or multiple ownership by distinct entities

When forming the possessive of a compound noun, does one add "'s" to both or just one of the nouns?

For example,

Jim's and Huck's raft


Jim and Huck's raft

  • Some related questions: this one and this one – yoozer8 Mar 8 '12 at 3:54
  • @FumbleFingers You are correct. I was sure there was one around here somewhere, but I didn't notice it in the first few search results. – yoozer8 Mar 8 '12 at 4:00
  • @Jim: It took me a while! Next time it'll be easier even if we forget the best search terms, because if we don't find that original, we'll find this one - which will be closed with a link to the original! – FumbleFingers Mar 8 '12 at 4:04
  • @FumbleFingers Although I agree that this seems a duplicate, there is a deeper question that to my knowledge is unanswered. See my comment below. – tchrist Mar 8 '12 at 4:21
  • @tchrist: Both the answers to the original question address the issue of two different "possessions" as well as two different "owners". – FumbleFingers Mar 8 '12 at 13:39

The latter is correct:

Jim and Huck's raft.

  • This is actually the same as how people say: “The person in the car’s phone rang”, in which you apply the ’s to the end of the NP. It’s really quite interesting IMHO. “Jim and Huck” is one NP, and the ’s gets applied to the end of the whole thing, just like with “person in the car”. See? – tchrist Mar 8 '12 at 4:19
  • @tchrist: Sorry, I didn't understand your explanation. The sentence "The person in the car's phone rang." is not English. – Jesse Good Mar 8 '12 at 4:31
  • Of course it’s English. You hear it all the time from native speakers. – tchrist Mar 8 '12 at 4:32
  • @tchrist: I'm a native English speaker and have never seen that usage (I also Googled it and didn't get any hits). However, English is a big language so I could be wrong! Also, native speakers make mistakes all the time when speaking, so that might be the case. – Jesse Good Mar 8 '12 at 4:35
  • Complex NPs like chairman pro tem, surgeon general, and mother-in-law all form a possessive by adding ’s on the last word, no matter that that word is not the head noun of the NP. They form plurals in a very different way. That type of ’s is more than merely somewhat odd. You also have an odd case with a double substantive in the NP when the second part is a pronoun: notice how the possessive of “It belongs to Bill and me, so it’s Bill’s and mine” not “so it’s Bill and mine”. There’s more afoot here than just putting ’s at the end. – tchrist Mar 8 '12 at 5:13

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