Posted by: episystechpubs | October 17, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Possessives Answer Time

Thanks to those of you who voted today! And the winner of the best tattoo is….

Okay. No tattoos. The answer I was looking for was ABB. This was a bit tricky, however, because it depends on whether you interpreted “girls” in the third set of sentences as a “team made up of girls” (attributive) or “girls” as in a “team for the girls” (possessive). Since the exercise was on possessives, ABB is the most correct, but ABA is correct in other circumstances. Here are the totals:

AAA (10)

ABA (39)

ABC (10)

ABB (22)

BBB (33)

BAA (10)

Congratulations to the 22 people who got everything right, despite the sneakiness of our language. And here are the answers from the writers of the quiz (from DailyWritingTips). Tomorrow I’ll send some additional information from the Chicago Manual of Style on forming possessive nouns; I know, you probably can’t wait!

1A: I helped paint the Smiths’ house.

1B: I helped paint the Smith’s house.

I helped paint the Smiths’ house.
The house is occupied by the Smiths, not the Smith, so the name must be treated as a plural possessive.

2A: My brother made a cake for our mom’s and dad’s anniversary celebration.

2B: My brother made a cake for our mom and dad’s anniversary celebration.

My brother made a cake for our mom and dad’s anniversary celebration.
When a pair of nouns is considered a single entity or group, only the second noun should be in the possessive form. (However, when two closely linked nouns are nevertheless clearly associated with distinct referents, both nouns should be in the possessive form, as in "I researched my aunt’s and uncle’s family backgrounds.")

3A: Darla made it onto the girls volleyball team.

3B: Darla made it onto the girls’ volleyball team.

3C: Darla made it onto the girl’s volleyball team.

Darla made it onto the girls’ volleyball team.
When a word can take either a possessive form (in this case, girls’, as in "for girls") or an attributive form (here, girls, as in "of girls"), the possessive form is usually more appropriate.

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

www.symitar.com

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