When referring to possessions of multiple people, the strictly correct form is with the possessive of each person, as in “Jack’s and Jill’s pails”. It is common to treat the pair of names as a noun phrase and to form its possessive instead, using only one ’s, as in “Jack and Jill’s pails”.
Are we sure this is correct? I thought quite the opposite was true, that it was strictly correct to append the -'s to the noun phrase as a whole but common to apply it to each member of the phrase. Of course there are times when multiple people separately possess plural objects, and then you'd be right to put an -'s on each. Remember: though -'s descends from English's old genitive case, it now functions more like a clitic, not a case ending. Xyzzyva 02:03, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
contraction of are
's is not a contraction of are! The use of 's where are should be expected is an erroneous usage and contraction of is. When one says, Where’s the table tennis balls? as in the example, this is short for Where is the table tennis balls? The form is is used because it is easier to contract than are,but 's is not a contraction of are. I am removing this definition. The contracted form of are is 're as in they're or we're. when 's is used as in the example, it is a contraction of is.
- It is not a contraction of are, indeed, but it's often used to mean are where the full word is would not be. Changed accordingly. Equinox ◑ 11:40, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Etym 2 Usage notes need clarification
- I have just worked out the following to attempt to clarify the whole section. Please contribute your opinions, etc, before I replace this section of the current entry with the following (or a collaboratively improved version thereof). Thanks. --TyrS 00:22, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Usage with words ending in “s” varies and can be confusing.
- Irregular plurals with endings other than 's' (e.g. children) always take 's:
- the children's voices
- In current usage, the final “s” is sometimes dropped after proper names ending in “s”. This may reflect variations in pronunciation, or be an instance of (or case of confusion due to) the Biblical/classical name rule. In print, ambiguity can result, because s’ is also used to indicate a plural noun.
- St. James's or St. James’
- (Where, technically, St. James’ could be read to indicate more than one St. James.)
- To remedy ambiguity or awkwardness in either speech or print, possessives can generally be recast using of the.
- the tails of the dogs
- the paths of St. James
- When referring to possessions of multiple people (who don't share the same name) the strictly correct form is with the possessive of each person:
- Jack's and Jill's pails
- However, it is common to treat the pair of names as a noun phrase and to form its possessive instead, using only one 's:
- Jack and Jill's pails
Inclusion of possessives in Wiktionary
This has been discussed in various places, but I was unable to find a list of where, so I thought I'd make one here. If anyone has a better location for it, please feel free to move it there (and leave a note here). -- 18.104.22.168 21:03, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
- Wiktionary:Beer parlour/2007/February#Proposal to exclude from Wiktionary all English possessives formed by the addition of either a bare apostrophe or an “’s” (copy & extension of the previous discussion)
- Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-07/Exclusion of possessive case (this seems pretty definitive)
- Wiktionary:Requests for deletion#husband's
- Wiktionary:Requests for deletion#wife's (lengthy discussion)