Tag Archives: possessive

when you need an apostrophe

I guess I’m unwittingly doing a series on apostrophes, because after last week’s rant about unnecessary ones, I was watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians and spotted this. I’m hoping this was just a typo, and that the caption writer doesn’t actually think a possessive doesn’t require an apostrophe.

A more advanced tip, which I’ve touched on before: Since the house belongs to Khloe and Lamar as a unit, “Khloe and Lamar’s” is preferred over “Khloe’s and Lamar’s.”


basic plural possessives

This is a phenomenon I see all the time when I’m shopping (which is a lot). I try not to get too exasperated about grammar mistakes — the fact that they’re so common keeps me in business — but I honestly don’t understand why this is such a common error. “Girl” doesn’t end in “s,” or a vowel, two things that can trip people up when it comes to employing the possessive. This is a simple rule: If something belongs to a collective, you use the plural form, followed by an apostrophe (girls’).

Oddly enough, all the other signs in the store were correct, including “Women’s” and “Men’s” which seem to have more potential for confusion. I don’t get it.

does giuliana need a j-school refresher?

OK, so picking on celebrity Tweets is a little like shooting fish in a barrel, but Giuliana Rancic is not only a reporter — she’s managing editor of E! News and has a master’s degree in journalism. So there’s no excuse for this error. The correct way to write the possessive here is “Tiger Woods’ first interview” or “Tiger Woods’s first interview,” depending on which stylebook you follow. (The former is AP, the latter Chicago.)  But “Tiger Wood’s”? Social media is still media, folks!

reader q: two-person possessives

My lovely sister, Anne, sent me a question this week. She wanted to know how to indicate a possessive that belongs to two people, i.e. the wedding of Jenn and James. She writes, “I think I remember something like if it belongs to them together, the last person gets the apostrophe. Did I just make that up?”

No, you’re absolutely right! The Chicago Manual of Style notes that, “Closely linked nouns are often considered a single unit in forming the possessive, when the entity possessed is the same for both.” e.g. Over the weekend, Anne stood up in Jenn and James’ wedding. But: Katie’s and Anne’s weddings were simple, elegant affairs. 🙂

Send me your grammar/style questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!