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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    I'm struggling with the sentence below related to apostrophe rule.

    Citizens exercising
    their Constitutional right to assemble is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.

    I think that the main verb of the sentence is 'is', if then, 'exercising' should be the main subject. My question is why does apostrophe not appear after 's' of 'Citizens'? Because the noun 'Citizens' in this sentence should do as the possessive, and in order to do that the word requires apostrophe. Can anyone who are stronger in grammar explain it?

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    #2

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bebop7 View Post
    I think that the main verb of the sentence is 'is'.
    That's right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bebop7 View Post
    If so, then 'exercising' should be the main subject.
    No. The subject is the noun phrase "citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble."

    No apostrophe is needed.

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    #3

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    That's right.


    No. The subject is the noun phrase "citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble."
    No apostrophe is needed.
    I think that it is right to use 'c' as a capital letter. The source is from npr.org(http://www.npr.org/2017/01/30/512487...ed-by-protests), and I think they should do proofread before publishing.

    Can you break down the phrase "citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble" in detail? From my perspective, if no apostrophe, the sentence is seen as: [citizens(noun, as the subject of exercising their right) exercising(gerund, interchangeable as 'who exercise their right') their constitutional right to assemble(noun phrase, as the object of exercising)]
    That is, if there is no apostrophe the 'is' should be changed to 'are' because 'citizens' is a plural noun.
    Last edited by Bebop7; 05-Feb-2017 at 18:05. Reason: typo fixed

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    #4

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble is a singular noun phrase.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble is a singular noun phrase.
    I know it is a singular noun phrase. Nevertheless, a vagueness still remains to me on the grammar role of 'citizens' in the noun phrase. That is what I am really curious about.

    I learned that if we want to indicate the subject of gerund we generally take the possessive form. For example, I am proud of your being my son. As you can see, in the noun phrase 'your being my son', 'you' is the subject of the verb 'being', and we turn 'you' to its possessive form 'your'.
    Last edited by Bebop7; 05-Feb-2017 at 18:36. Reason: Additional information

  6. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    In 'Citizens exercising their right,' 'exercising' can be seen as a participle modifying the noun 'Citizens'.
    I learned that if we want to indicate the subject of gerund we generally take the possessive form.
    That is the view of some and style-guide writers. Most grammarians accept either form.

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    #7

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    I think that if you want to be very strict about grammatical correctness, then an apostrophe is required, for reasons you point out. However, many people are relaxed about this particular point, and even prefer the less 'correct', but more common way.

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    #8

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    'exercising' can be seen as a participle modifying the noun 'Citizens'.
    Would that not then make the subject Citizens instead of exercising?

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    #9

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Yes, it would, if you used that analysis.

    You can also consider 'exercising' as a gerund preceded by a noun (Citizens) that is not marked for possession.

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    #10

    Re: Citizens exercising or Citizens' exercising? (on apostrophe rule)

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I think that if you want to be very strict about grammatical correctness, then an apostrophe is required, for reasons you point out. However, many people are relaxed about this particular point, and even prefer the less 'correct', but more common way.
    I know of few grammarians today who would claim that an apostrophe is required.
    .

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