×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Where does this apostrophe belong?

Where does this apostrophe belong?

Where does this apostrophe belong?

(OP)
I don't have any famous persons' autograph.

or

I don't have any famous person's autograph.

I initially wrote the first, because there are a plurality of famous persons whose autographs I don't have.  Then I started wondering.

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Since the 'any' implies multiple persons, the first would correct.  If it had been an 'a', then the second would be.

At least that's my take on it.

I still have a copy of Strunk and White's 'The Elements of Style' around here somewhere so if I find it perhaps it will have citation for a situation like this.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Design Solutions
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
http://www.siemens.com/plm
http://www.plmworld.com/museum/

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
 

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

I vote for the second version, and would use "person's autograph" or "persons' autographs", depending on the intended meaning.

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

I'm sure we argued about this here for ages a couple of years ago.

It helps if you temporarily substitute "people" for "persons" - because then the difference between the two forms is audible.

It also helps if you strip away the complication of the famous people and just look at the way spoken English routinely uses "any".  For discrete items (like pencils and autographs) it always seems to take a plural.  I think this is because we routinely treat it as an abbreviation of "any of the ...." rather than "any single ....".  ("I don't have any ice cream" implies the tub is empty; "I don't have any ice creams" suggests I dropped them in the sand")

I would use Hokie's "persons' autographs" for preference (I'd probably actually say "people's autographs" - but that's just regional preference).

I don't like "persons' autograph.  That suggests more autographers than autographs.

I don't think "person's autograph" is wrong. Logically, it is a true statement, but it doesn't chime with the customary illogicality of everyday usage.

... and once you get into illogical usage, we're bound to find regional variations creeping into the argument.

A.

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

To me it's all fuzzy logic.  

I would rephrase it to say "I don't have the autograph of any famous people"  and be done with it.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Yours is just a fuzzy, as the singular and plural are mixed.  You would need to either change to "autographs" or "person" in your sentence.

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

You're right Hokie, but it's my fuzz.  bigsmile

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Actually, that's what Strunk and White in "The Elements of Style" recommends; when in doubt or when it just sounds wrong, change the wording so that there's no need for an apostrophe.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Design Solutions
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
http://www.siemens.com/plm
http://www.plmworld.com/museum/

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
 

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

If you intend persons to be plural, then you should use the plural possessive form:  persons'.  If you intend for person to be singular, then use the singular possessive form:  person's.

Whether autographs should be singular or plural depends on whether you talking about one autograph per person or multiple autographs per person.

I don't have any famous persons' autograph.  ==> multiple persons with one autograph per person.
I don't have any famous persons' autographs. ==> multiple persons with multiple autographs per person.
I don't have any famous person's autograph.  ==> single person with single autograph.
I don't have any famous person's autographs.  ==> single person with multiple autographs.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

An engineer would solve the problem by getting a famous person's autograph   

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Murec- that sounds more like an advertising exc. ploy rather than an engineer who would probably find an alternate solution.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)  

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Reviewing CajunCenturion's four sentences above, I think the first sentence does not mean what he says it does.  There is only one autograph, which could not have come from multiple persons.

I also think the fourth sentence is suspect.  Unless I have one autograph, I can't have multiple autographs.

The second and third sentences cover all options.
 

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

Only the second and fourth paragraphs are grammatically correct.  "Famous" modifies "persons'" or "person's," which is the possessive of the autograph(s).  Remove "famous persons" and you have "I don't have any autographs."  "Any" is plural in this instance (describing an indefinite number).  Therefore, it follows that the sentences ending with "autograph" use poor grammar.  The sentence must end with "autographs." In the first sentence, the speaker is saying they don't have any autographs from any famous people (one or more autographs from multiple people).  In the fourth sentence, the speaker is saying they don't have any autographs from anybody.

Scott
======================================
"You can marry more money in five minutes than you can make in a lifetime."

Have you read the Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies lately?

RE: Where does this apostrophe belong?

person is singular.
people is plural.

"I don't have any famous person's autograph" is correct.  (I don't have the autograph of any famous person.)

I don't have any famous people's autographs. (I don't have the autographs of any famous people.)

Just my take on the OP.

f-d

¡papá gordo ain't no madre flaca!

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Resources

Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close