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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
18 votes

Why is an article often used with (the) Rubik's cube, although other "name+'s" constructions usually don't use one?

In some cases we're looking at a Compound Modifier* rather than a true genitive - the part that looks like a possessive term is being used as an associated adjective rather than an indication of ...
ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere's user avatar
15 votes

Why is an article often used with (the) Rubik's cube, although other "name+'s" constructions usually don't use one?

A Rubik’s cube—not the —is a manufactured puzzle, a physical object. Snell’s Law is an abstract idea. As the name of a real-world object, Rubik’s cube is capable of being, and in fact is, a count noun:...
PaulTanenbaum's user avatar
10 votes

Why doesn't "The Screwtape Letters" have the Saxon genitive in its title?

The Einstein Letters Auction of the Einstein Letters in The Guardian OR About the Winston Churchill Letters (1899-1951) archive collection of Winston Churchill's letter When a writer is referring ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 15.2k
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

Why doesn't "The Screwtape Letters" have the Saxon genitive in its title?

"The Screwtape Letters" -> This is a very simple case of a noun - "Screwtape"- being used attributively. The fact that the noun (phrase) is a proper noun makes absolutely no ...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 43.4k
7 votes

A friend of John's / John's friend

Short answer You could say either. However, it would perhaps be more natural to say a friend of John's, as the Original Poster suggests. The reason for this is that the speaker will probably want to ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Apostrophes in a list of people

If the boat is posssessed equally by the three, you only need put the apostrophe on the last person's name. E.g., John, Jacob, and Mary's boat. The possessive, in a list, on the last person shows ...
stampedunder's user avatar
7 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
  • 83.5k
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
6 votes
Accepted

How do you punctuate what FFS expands to?

I have always written it as 'for fuck's sake' when I have needed to. Definition of 'FFS' in British English slang ABBREVIATION FOR the taboo expression 'for fuck's sake': used esp in social media, ...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
5 votes

Is "mens" a valid word?

The "possessive" or genitive -'(s) construction in English has several uses. In modern English, the most common and productive usage is to turn an entire NP (or DP, depending on what framework you're ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.5k
4 votes

Is it "John or Mary's house" or "John's or Mary's house"?

In my view, this question has three dimensions—one focused on logic, one concerned with style-guide preferences, and one emphasizing real-world usage. The logic dimension As a matter of logic, the ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 166k
4 votes
Accepted

Adding a possessive to a singular noun phrase that ends in a plural noun

I'm going to quote a comment that I think efficiently lays out some of the presuppositions that this question is based on, in order to express some disagreement with those presuppositions: in ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.5k
4 votes
Accepted

On the idiomaticity of attributive proper nouns, proper adjectives, and either singular or plural possessives when describing Imperial Possessions

You should say "Ottoman war machine" and "Byzantine city of Constantinople". Ottoman, although derived from a name, is one of the words that people like to say is "used as an adjective". The phrase "...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.5k
4 votes

Found in Mary'r Room

Assuming we're talking about the his-possessive and its ilk (also called the "possessive dative"), the forms with "her" and "their" were used "very rarely", so ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.7k
4 votes

Why doesn't "The Screwtape Letters" have the Saxon genitive in its title?

As many have pointed out, it's a very common construction. It's taking a name (a person, place etc), and using it as an adjective: The Agatha Christie mysteries The Greenwich meridian The Reimann ...
Tim Owens's user avatar
4 votes

Why is an article often used with (the) Rubik's cube, although other "name+'s" constructions usually don't use one?

First of all, it matters to point out that the use of the definite article is only one option. The ngram showing the use of this phrase at the start of sentences (below) makes it clear that, initially,...
LPH's user avatar
  • 22.7k
4 votes

Why is an article often used with (the) Rubik's cube, although other "name+'s" constructions usually don't use one?

The definite article "the" is used as we use it for talking about any product, game, produce or item. Chardonnay was originally produced in the Burgundy wine region. The Chardonnay is a ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 91.9k
4 votes
Accepted

Why is an article often used with (the) Rubik's cube, although other "name+'s" constructions usually don't use one?

The natural form of description for a multiply produced device named after its inventor does not use the genitive: a Faraday cage, a diesel engine, a Tesla coil, a Phillips screwdriver, etc. Probably, ...
John Bentin's user avatar
  • 1,361
3 votes
Accepted

What's wrong with "One of my children's name IS John"?

Actually, this construction seems to be be attested in some documents indexed by Google Books: The Witness: One of my children's name is Richard White. (The federal reporter - Volume 219 - Page ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.5k
3 votes
Accepted

Do I need an apostrophe in "These trees’ roots"?

If the main focus of the question is where to place the possessive apostrophe then the answers posted by Caleb and Daniel are absolutely correct, the apostrophe is placed after the suffix "s"...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 91.9k
3 votes

Why are some possessives formed with “of ” but not apostrophe-“s”?

English speakers preferentially use the possessive apostrophe when the possessor is a living entity. When the owner is a living entity, the prepositional phrasing is technically correct, but the ...
mRotten's user avatar
  • 1,086
3 votes

How to use a the possessive "s" after a dot?

The New Yorker has a convention of writing Jr.,’s in such cases, as in Donald Trump, Jr.,’s love (source). It seems odd, but they present their rationale here.
E...'s user avatar
  • 131
3 votes

How do you make a phrase possessive?

The sentence is perfectly grammatical as it is. Here a friend of mine's is called a phrasal genitive. We say that mine's has double case-marking, an inner case and an outer case. See especially the ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
2 votes

What would be the possessive of "Defendants Smith"?

EVEN AT THE RISK of earning the ire of some irritable member, I shall cuts the Gordian knot and go straight to the crux of your question: Is it "Defendants Smiths' argument" or is it "Defendants ...
English Student's user avatar
2 votes

Is it "John or Mary's house" or "John's or Mary's house"?

My solution. “The house of John or that of Mary” can be rewritten as John's house or Mary's Under the subheading compounds with pronouns, Wikipedia suggests a similar word order when comparing the ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 91.9k
2 votes

Saxon Genitive or adjective

I think the classification of the part of speech of words like "FDA" is actually not necessarily as simple as tchrist indicates, but in any case, "FDA, EPA, and TTB regulations" is entirely correct ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.5k

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