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Thread: Apostrophe use


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    #1

    Apostrophe use

    Would like a comment on the following sentence:
    "I embroidered small designs on my granddaughter’s and grandson's clothing."
    Assuming the person has only one grandson and one granddaughter, is the above correct?
    It is a shortened form of:
    "I embroidered small designs on my granddaughter’s clothing and grandson's clothing."
    ..but the following sentence (omitting the apostrophe on granddaughter’s) "sounds" (at least to me ) better.
    "I embroidered small designs on my granddaughter and grandson's clothing."
    Technically, this could be misinterpreted as actually sewing designs into the flesh of the grandaughter - however, since occurrences of this are rare, the context should make the meaning clear. Just wondered if there were any rules about the use of the apostrophe in cases of possible multiple apostrophes. eg
    "I embroidered small designs on my son's, daughter's, granddaughter's and grandson's clothing."
    ...where again I am assuming the person has only one son, one daughter etc.
    Thanks
    David

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    #2

    Re: Apostrophe use

    How about

    I embroidered small designs on both my grandchildrens' clothing.

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    #3

    Re: Apostrophe use

    Quote Originally Posted by curmudgeon View Post
    How about

    I embroidered small designs on both my grandchildrens' clothing.
    By changing it to grandchildren you do avoid the problem of the two apostrophes, but you are also omitting the fact that there is a grandchild of each sex. I would leave both apostrophes.


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    #4

    Re: Apostrophe use

    If it is joint possession, then use the apostrophe with the second person referred to:

    Paul and Sue's house.

    In your sentence, the two grandchildren have separate clothing, hence use an apostrophe after each: on my granddaughter’s and grandson's clothing."


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    #5

    Re: Apostrophe use

    Or again you can avoid it by saying "I embroidered small designs on clothing for my granddaughter and grandson".


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    #6

    Re: Apostrophe use

    ...which is along the lines of what a native speaker would probably say anyway!

    "I bought these lovely outfits for my granddaughter and grandson when I was shopping last week, and embroidered these really nice designs on them. Wait till I show you!"
    Last edited by David L.; 28-Nov-2008 at 22:18.

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    #7

    Re: Apostrophe use

    David's explanation is perfect. If it's joint ownership, you use one apostrophe after the last person in the list of owners; otherwise, individual apopstrophes for each owner. This usually means a plural object (Bill's and Sue's houses), which helps in the understanding of the phrase, but in the case of clothes or clothing, that isn't possible.

    See how important those apostrophes are? On another thread today, someone said they are overused.


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    #8

    Re: Apostrophe use

    The link, please!

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    #9

    Re: Apostrophe use


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