This is the post I was drafting in my head as I sat drinking my morning coffees at the mall ...
* * *
THREE PEOPLE have quoted these words I wrote:
(a) I'll see you at Bobby's and Betty's funerals.
(b) I'll see you at Bobby and Betty's funeral.
Capt Zapp included an addition sentence I wrote introducing those words, i.e. "My gut tells me both of these are correct:"
All three then wrote very brief comments making only one point: the sentences mean different things.
All were written in a way suggesting I was not aware the sentences had different meanings.
* * *
READ THE FULL POST before making nitpicking comments like that!
DO NOT MISREPRESENT my words by being too selective in those you choose to quote!
* * *
CW started this thread with a reasonable question:
if you have two sequential possessives, do you include the possessive on each.
He suggests a suspicion that there may be some rule for this type of situation.
The words omitted when I was quoted were:
A further thought ... is whether the nouns joined by the conjunction are forming a single noun phrase acting as the possessor of one noun - or whether the conjunction is joining [two] possessions of similar things, in which case the repeated word may be omitted.
Isn't that clearly stating [bar one typo of 'to' instead of 'two'] that answer to CW's question depends on whether they mean?
A's thing and B's thing
If thing is an uncountable noun, both of those could be written with the words 'A and B thing' before the decision is made whether to put an apostrophe and 's' after both 'A' and 'B', or just after 'B'.
WHAT ELSE could two example sentences following my introductory explanation be, other than examples of a (possibly not only) valid way to punctuate sentences to make it clear what your sentence means???
* * *
It appears no one's capable of putting up a serious challenge to my reigning title as the Most-Annoying Nitpicking Pissant, although SB has made one effort deserving of an honourable mention. Perhaps we could create another title for others to contest for: the Most-Annoying Nit-Infested Pissant.
Did I mention I returned from my morning coffees feeling a bit cranky?
We currently have three candidates, all running neck-and-neck at this moment. They are NOGPRAPLA, NOGPRAPLA, and NOGPRAPLA.
(For those who have not seen it before, NOGPRAPLA is an acronym of 'name of guilty party redacted as per legal advice'.
* * *
END OF PREVIOUSLY PLANNED DRAFT POST ... Here!
RECOMMENCE POST IN THE LIGHT OF NEW EVIDENCE ... Here!
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen ... We have a WINNER, by a KNOCKOUT ... and our NEW ... UNDISPUTABLE ... CHAMPEEEYON of the world ... and holder of the heavyweight crown for MOST-ANNOYING ... NIT-INFESTED ... PISS-ANT ...
Da, da, da, dah ... Da, da, da, DAH, DAH, DAAAAH!
I PRESENT to you ... DOMINIONS SON! ... Our new champion. Long may he reign!
* * *
END of EXTREMELY-ANNOYING-PISSANT mode ... Here!
COMMENCE WHY-WOULDN'T-EVERYONE-HERE-LOVE-ME mode ... Here!
* * *
I have quoted below the entire text of Section 4.2.1 from New Hart's Guide. As I understand it, that is most commonly used reference making similar kinds of recommendation to CMOS, but specifically for those using British English.
I can see no particular reason why there should be any particular differences between British and American styles of showing possession. I quote it instead of CMOS here because it's explanations are usually easily comprehensible, whereas CMOS has many that are virtually impossible to understand.
Trust me, it took me quite some time to revise what I copied from a PDF into a format suitable for display by the SOL editor.
Use 's to indicate possession after singular nouns and indefinite pronouns (for example everything, anyone):
~ the boy's job
~ the box's contents
~ anyone's guess
and after plural nouns that do not end in s:
~ people's opinions
~ women's rights
With singular nouns that end in an s sound, the extra s can be omitted if it makes the phrase difficult to pronounce (the catharsis' effects), but it is often preferable to transpose the words and insert of (the effects of the catharsis).
Use an apostrophe alone after plural nouns ending in s:
~ our neighbours' children
~ other countries' air forces
An apostrophe is used in a similar way when the length of a period of
time is specified:
~ a few days' holiday
~ three weeks' time
but notice that an apostrophe is not used in adjectival constructions such as three months pregnant.
Use an apostrophe alone after singular nouns ending in an s or z sound and combined with sake:
~ for goodness' sake
[Ross comments, "For fucking-goodness sake! I'm not ever going to be thinking about my bloody punctuation if I write the words for that situation.]
Note that for old times' sake is a plural and so has the apostrophe after the s.
Do not use an apostrophe in [ANY] possessive pronouns hers, its, ours, yours, theirs:
~ a friend of yours
~ theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Distinguish its (a possessive meaning 'belonging to it') from it's (a contraction for 'it is' or 'it has'):
~ give the cat its dinner
~ it's been raining
In compounds and of phrases, use 's after the last noun when it is singular:
~ my sister-in-law's car
~ the King of Spain's daughter
but use the apostrophe alone after the last noun when it is plural:
~ the King of the Netherlands' appeal
~ Tranmere Rovers' best season
A DOUBLE POSSESSIVE, making use of both of and an apostrophe, may be used with nouns and pronouns relating to people or with personal names:
~ a speech of Churchill's
~ that necklace of her's
In certain contexts the double possessive clarifies the meaning of the of: compare a photo of Mary with a photo of Mary's.
The double possessive is not used with nouns referring to an organization or institution:
~ a friend of the Tate Gallery
~ a window of the hotel
Use 's after the last of a set of linked nouns where the nouns are acting together:
~ Liddell and Scott's Greek–English Lexicon
~ Beaumont and Fletcher's comedies
but repeat 's after each noun in the set where the nouns are acting separately:
~ Johnson's and Webster's lexicography
~ Shakespeare's and Jonson's comedies
[Ross comments @DS: GOTCHA! Your last suggested sentence does specify two funerals, but because the word 'funerals' is plural. However both would have been joint funerals. Perhaps both were buried side-by-side in one ceremony, then both dug up and re-buried back-to-back in a second joint ceremony.]
An 's indicates residences and places of business:
~ at Jane's
~ going to the doctor's
In the names of large businesses, endings that were originally possessive are now often acceptably written with no apostrophe, as if they were plurals: Harrods, Currys. This is the case even when the name of the company or institution is a compound, for example Barclays Bank, Citizens Advice Bureau. Other institutions retain the apostrophe, however, for example Levi's and Macy's, and editors should not alter a consistently applied style without checking with the author.
An apostrophe and s are generally used with personal names ending in an s, x, or z sound:
~ Bridget Jones's Diary
but an apostrophe alone may be used in cases where an additional s would cause difficulty in pronunciation, typically after longer names that are not accented on the last or penultimate syllable:
~ Nicholas' or Nicholas's
~ Lord Williams's School
Jesus's is the usual non-liturgical use; Jesus' is an accepted archaism.
It is traditional to use an apostrophe alone after classical names ending in s or es:
This style should be followed for longer names; with short names the alternative Zeus's, for instance, is permissible. When classical names are used in scientific or other contexts their possessives generally require the additional s:
~ Mars' spear
~ Mars's gravitational force
Use 's after French names ending in silent s, x, or z, when used possessively in English:
When a singular or plural name or term is italicized, set the possessive 's in roman:
~ the Daily Telegraph's Brussels correspondent
~ the Liberty's crew
Do not use an apostrophe in the names of wars known by their length:
~ Hundred Years War
[Ross comments: I shall be grateful our wars here never end.]
It is impossible to predict with certainty whether a place or organizational name ending in s requires an apostrophe. For example:
~ Land's End
~ Lord's Cricket Ground
~ Offa's Dyke
~ St James's Palace
~ St Thomas' Hospital (not 's)
~ All Souls College
~ Earls Court
~ Johns Hopkins University
~ St Andrews
Check doubtful instances … on the institution's own website (other websites may be unreliable) ...