More About Possession

by Cherie Tucker

If more than one person owns something, it can be tricky to show the reader just what’s what, so here are some tips.
If two or more named people own something jointly, put the apostrophe on the last name.

Example:  Do you have Lucy and Ethel’s address?  (They are roommates and have the same address.)

If those people own separate but similar things, put the apostrophe on each name:
Example:  Do you have Lucy’s and Ethel’s addresses?  (They are not roommates. They have two different addresses.)

If the joint ownership contains a name and a pronoun*, use the same rule that you would for pronouns:  read the sentence once with the name alone and once with the pronoun alone.

Example:  This boat is my son’s and mine.  (Read:  This boat is my son’s.  This boat is mine.  Not This boat is me and my son’s.)

Or:  This is my son’s and my boat.  (Read:  This is my son’s boat.  This is my boat.)  

Above all, avoid the too-commonly overheard I's, as in "It's my wife and I's anniversary."  Please.

*Pronouns are those words that stand in for nouns, such as he ,him, she, her, I, me, mine, yours, etc.

Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.  She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well.

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