Interested in Language
Please let me know if these examples are correct.
James' car is very fast. (Is it correct to use apostrophe after the noun if the word is a proper name that ends in "s"?
Mary and my apartment was sold yesterday. (Is it correct not to use apostrophe after my?
Customer laptop computer's battery discharges very quickly. (Is it correct to use apostrophe on the penultimate noun?)
Thanks in advance.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
I hope Barb_D doesn't mind me expounding on this last one.
The reason why “customer” gets the apostrophe and why “computer” does not, as you have guessed (good guess, BTW!), is because “laptop computer” and “computer battery” are both relatively common phrases in spoken English. That makes them less likely to be subject to the possessive. There are a lot of common phrases that aren’t “words” yet, like “car engine” or “TV show” or “guitar case”. Each of these could be found, in one situation or another, in the possessive or not.
If phrases aren’t common, you might string them together, like:
The plane’s cockpit’s dashboard’s surface was damaged.
I’ve often typed “my boss’s boss’s boss” which signifies the person in charge 3 levels up from me. As soon as there is a common phrase, you can skip the possessive:
The plane’s cockpit’s computer battery’s surface was damaged.
Granted that’s a contrived example (and any native speaker would rework it), hopefully it shows my point. So, back to the original... in a pinch, you could string them all together:
Customer’s laptop’s computer’s battery discharges...
and while strange, it isn’t really “wrong”, and it’s much better sounding (to a native speaker) than “Customer laptop computer's battery discharges”.