Posted by: episystechpubs | December 10, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Joint Possessives

We are cruising this week! You’ve had your taste of pronouns and now it’s time for a little bit of information on joint possessives. First, what the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about writing about jointly owned objects, such as “Dylan and Darla’s swimming pool,” or “Rosy and Robert’s jet ski.”

Here are a few rules:

1. The standard way of treating joint possessives it to treat the owners as a single unit and add the apostrophe after the last name only.

· Teddy and Terry and Persephone’s party bus

· Pat and Oscar’s restaurants

2. When you are talking about several individuals and each one has their own (insert object here), then each owner gets an apostrophe.

· Bella’s and Buster’s T-bones (Each one has their own bone—they would certainly not share one!)

· Annie’s and Chris’s xylophones (They each have their own instruments.)

3. When you start to use pronouns in place of one of the individuals, be careful! Often it is best to rephrase sentences to avoid awkwardness.

· Rainbow and Rascal’s doghouse (Clear.)

· Rainbow and his doghouse (Unclear. Are you talking about Rainbow and a doghouse? Or are you talking about a doghouse that belongs to Rainbow and Rascal?)

· Rainbow’s and his doghouse (Debatable. Chicago Manual of Style says okay. Several grammar resources say it is incorrect but acceptable. The same goes for “His and Rainbow’s doghouse.”)

4. When you have two or more possessive pronouns, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

· Her and his party was really exciting! (Their party was really exciting! Joe and Katrina’s party was really exciting!)

· Please come to my husband and my house for dinner. (Please come to our house for dinner.)

· We should take your and my chips to the roulette table. (We should take your chips and mine to the roulette table. We should take our chips to the roulette table.)

And now for some comic relief:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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