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Possessive of a word that’s already possessive?

For example, would it be correct to write St. Marys' basketball team for the basketball team belonging to St. Mary's church?

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Nov 13 '12 at 9:56

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    It's not the team of St. Mary's, so you don't need the extra apostrophe there. It's St. Mary's church's team, but as with St. John's, the easiest way around the issue is to just refer to it as the St. Mary's team (think of St. Mary's as a noun serving in an adjectival capacity). – FumbleFingers Nov 13 '12 at 3:36
  • Yes, "adjectival capacity" is a good way of putting it. Thanks! (It does make one wonder about St. James' Park...) – Michelle Nov 13 '12 at 6:21
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    @Michelle: why does it make you wonder that? The S in James is part of the name. The S in Mary, on the other hand — wait, there is no S in Mary. It's St. Mary's, but it's not St. Jame's. – RegDwigнt Nov 13 '12 at 10:00

In Ireland, a parish might have the name "St. Michael's parish". However, their GAA club would be called St. Michael's GAA club.


So, I would consider St. Mary's Basketball Team to be correct.


Any difficulty can be removed by writing St Marys basketball team or St Marys Church basketball team. Affiliative use seems to be one area where the apostrophe is disappearing, and no bad thing either.


There's no need for the second possessive indicator and it can be dispensed with. It is not always necessary to show the ownership explicitly in cases such as this. St. Mary's can also be used in an adjectival sense to modify 'basketball team'.

St. Mary
St. Mary's Church (can be also referred to as St. Mary's) →
St. Mary's Basketball Team
Note the capitalization as you are referring to a particular named team.

"USA Baseball organizes various teams composed of High School, College, and Professional baseball players competing nationally and internationally."

The England Football Team makes as much sense as the England's football team and better sense than the English football team (could be ambiguous, in fact).

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