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65 votes
Accepted

Why is the apostrophe positioned differently in "ones' complement" than "two's complement"?

Donald Knuth, that doyen of computer science, says in Art of Computer Programming, Vol 2.: Detail-oriented readers and copy-editors should notice the position of the apostrophe in terms like "two'...
user2474226's user avatar
28 votes

Can you write "... me's" (the possessive)?

"The person behind me's breathing" is called a "group genitive". Grammarian Richard Nordquist states in his introduction to the topic on ThoughtCo: In English grammar, the group ...
Shoe's user avatar
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18 votes
Accepted

Am I correct that, in terms of conversation, "converse" can in no way be used as a noun?

I wouldn't say it's "out of the question", but it's certainly out of this era. I have never heard converse used this way and it would certainly confuse many people. But it was used like that: ...
Laurel's user avatar
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18 votes
Accepted

Why "thine heart" but "thy whole heart"?

As pointed out by @Jeff Zeitlin, the rule was phonetic, it's just that initial h's are highly prone to elision/deletion. The Wikipedia article on thou says that thine was used before nouns beginning ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
17 votes

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003) offers the following discussion of how to handle possessive proper names ending in -s: POSSESSIVES. A. Singular Possessives. To ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
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17 votes
Accepted

Why does English employ double possessive pronouns such as theirs and ours?

I don't know why etymonline calls theirs 'a double possessive', but it's not. The unfortunate terminology of 'the double possessive', aka 'the double genitive', is not due to the pronoun theirs itself ...
JK2's user avatar
  • 6,623
15 votes

"Aliens, whose appearance mirrored human’s, appeared..."

Your friend's sentence is indeed not grammatical English. However, all of the variations below can be correct, with subtle differences in meaning: "Aliens, whose appearance mirrored humans' [...
Ilmari Karonen's user avatar
14 votes

Possessive form for a surname ending with "z"

Spelling Possessives: A simple rule with zero exceptions There is no special rule for surnames which does not also apply to common nouns. For that matter, there is no special rule for singulars versus ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
14 votes
Accepted

"Aliens, whose appearance mirrored human’s, appeared..."

"The appearance of the aliens mirrored the appearance of humans", so it should be humans' with an apostrophe.
Kate Bunting's user avatar
11 votes

Is there a correct gender-neutral singular pronoun ("his" vs. "her" vs. "their")?

October 2017 5.48: Singular they (footnote from the Chicago Manual of Style Online October 2017) The generic singular they was endorsed in 2015 by the editors of the Washington Post, though with a ...
Livrecache's user avatar
  • 1,032
9 votes

Is there a correct gender-neutral singular pronoun ("his" vs. "her" vs. "their")?

Before I answer I wish to state that I am a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and don't particularly care what pronoun anyone prefers or chooses for themself, as long as it makes them feel ...
David M's user avatar
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9 votes

Am I correct that, in terms of conversation, "converse" can in no way be used as a noun?

In the sense related to conversations, you will find examples of "to hold converse" and "held converse" but I believe these to be either mostly archaic or, else, narrow uses within Biblical or ...
MDHunter's user avatar
  • 459
9 votes

Am I correct that, in terms of conversation, "converse" can in no way be used as a noun?

You don't have a converse. That is out of the question. But you 'have converse', at least if you are an 18th Century Puritan. It would mean that you have ongoing or continual conversations, at least ...
jobermark's user avatar
  • 602
9 votes
Accepted

"My Mom" vs "Mom" Usage

Mom and my mom are very different: it is not simply a question of possessives. If you and your siblings shared, say, a truck, then you would simply use the appropriate pronoun: [to stranger]: Where ...
Benjamin Kuykendall's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

How do we use the possessive case (i.e., 's) with "or"?

The Punctuation Guide, which draws its rules from APA and the Chicago Manual of Style, distinguishes between joint or shared possession and individual possession. In joint possession, only one 's ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
8 votes

If you are talking "on behalf of" you and someone else, what is the correct usage?

I looked at a bunch of style guides to see what they have to say on this subject. The vast majority of them dedicate at least a paragraph to the distinction (or nondistinction) between "in behalf ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 165k
8 votes

Do I add " ’s " after the number on a pope/king’s name? (e.g. Pope Paul VI’s)

The English apostrophe-s is not a case inflection the way you have in German or Russian, Latin or Greek. Rather it is a clitic that attaches to the end of the entire noun phrase, not merely to the ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
8 votes

How would you say "a car manufactured by Toyota"?

As Janus Bahs Jacquet points out, it's common to call a product by the manufacturer's name when it's closely identified with the manufacturer. Thus you can say "I bought a Toyota." If you say "I ...
Xanne's user avatar
  • 15.5k
8 votes

Master thesis, master's degree thesis or master degree thesis

https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/24377/use-master-thesis-or-masters-thesis "Grammatically speaking, master's thesis unequivocally means a thesis of a master. Master thesis can be read the same ...
bookmanu's user avatar
  • 6,941
8 votes
Accepted

Mnemotechnic approach to identifying transitive vs verb-adjective constructs

Attempting to analyse sentences in isolation runs counter to what language as a system of communication is. There is no way to disambiguate the plant has buried leaves without further context and/or ...
Arm the good guys in America's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Does a possessive still require an apostrophe when a noun has been omitted to avoid repetition?

In the example sentence, "Their understanding of the subject is as good as their masters," the actual thing being compared is the understanding of their masters. The sentence therefore requires a ...
R Mac's user avatar
  • 3,608
7 votes

Can dummy "it" occur as possessive "its"?

As I'm sure you know, one of English's "small clause" constructions consists of a subject and a gerund phrase, where the subject may be either in the objective/accusative case ("them leaving was a ...
ruakh's user avatar
  • 15.5k
7 votes
Accepted

Possessive form of "which"

"Whose" still works. An image is read and sent to the function, whose output is displayed.
Scotland141's user avatar
7 votes

Possessive form of "which"

As an alternative to Scotland141's perfectly valid answer, you can use of which, although in this case the word order is slightly different: An image is read and sent to the function, the output of ...
MattBecker82's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

What is the correct way to say "It was this week that Justin and my lives changed forever"?

The least amount of restructuring I can think of is: It was this week that both my life and Justin's changed forever. The use of both makes it clear that there are two lives—rather than a shared ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

What is the possesive form of "ye"?

In Early Modern English, the nominative (subject) form of the second person plural was ye. The rest of the forms of the second person plural are still in use: you (objective), your (genitive), your (...
Juhasz's user avatar
  • 7,588
7 votes

Possessives with gerunds

You're tripping up on terminology, which is understandable since it's hard to find reliable information about English grammar, especially online. Everybody uses their own terms, with whatever meanings ...
John Lawler's user avatar
6 votes

Is the possessive of "one" spelled "ones" or "one's"?

Indefinite pronouns like one and somebody: one's, somebody's The possessive of the pronoun one is spelled one's. There are many types of pronouns. Unfortunately, people explaining the mnemonic for ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.1k
6 votes
Accepted

Where should the apostrophe go on a possessive abbreviation?

In your question, the two alternatives that you permit readers (and yourself) to consider are If the Giant Ostrich Bomb's (GOB) fuse is too short, you may be too close when it goes off and you may ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 165k
6 votes

Are there nouns that undergo no change when used in the possessive (Saxon genitive)?

I think you might be mistaking attributive nouns in noun–noun compounds for possessive nouns with apostrophes, but I’m not completely certain. When you have a child entertainer, the word child is ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k

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