Posted by languageandgrammar on May 11, 2009
No, I’m not talking about when your wife won’t let you go to a bar with your friends or your husband doesn’t let you talk to anyone at the office Christmas party; those problems would require the assistance of, oh I don’t know, perhaps a marriage counselor, not an editor.
What I’m talking about is how to indicate possession when discussing a single object that belongs to two people.
If two people own or have possession of one thing, put the apostrophe after only the second name. For example, when Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann hosted a single post-election show, we referred to it as Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann’s post-election show.
Other examples: Dick and George’s secret plan (one plan that they devised together), Barack and Michelle’s gift to the Queen (they gave her one gift together), and Sherry and Paul’s blog.
If you’re talking about two separate things that belong to two separate people, however, each name gets an apostrophe, as in Chris Matthews’ and Keith Olbermann’s shows (Matthews’ show is called Hardball, and Olbermann’s show is called Countdown), and Newsweek’s and Time’s front-page stories (each has its own front-page story).
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