How do I make "Player(s)" a possessive?
February 28, 2007 11:55 AM   Subscribe

How do you show possession in the case of an optional pluralisation? For example, if the word is player(s), would you write player(s)'s? Player(s)'? Player('s|s')?

If there are any regional rules for this, ie. British vs. American, it would be great if you could note this-- I may need to use both or neither.
posted by magacid to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd suggest avoiding that messiness altogether and explicitly saying "of the player(s)" or "belonging to the player(s)".
posted by mkultra at 12:01 PM on February 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about punting by saying -one or more players'-?
posted by googly at 12:02 PM on February 28, 2007

I would probably change it to "each of the players' X," if possible. Just somehow get it all in the plural to avoid the "(s)" entirely.
posted by occhiblu at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2007

There's an entire metatalk thread that started off about something else but devolved into a full on discussion of this, involving editors and others. Might be worth trying to find.
posted by spicynuts at 12:40 PM on February 28, 2007

I'm with the others on avoiding the "player(s)" construction entirely by casting to the plural, if at all possible. Once you throw possession into the mix, it gets difficult to parse (and impossible to say out loud. Do you have some sample phrases you are considering?
posted by wheat at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2007

I agree with mkultra. The apostrophe is grammatical sugar, and when its use becomes cumbersome, you should fall back to more verbose phrase.
posted by ijoshua at 12:47 PM on February 28, 2007

* out loud).
posted by wheat at 12:47 PM on February 28, 2007

The player('s)(s') girl.
(Could mean the player has a girl, or a bunch of players collectively have a girl. weird either way.)

I would try avoiding the construction altogether, since it results in a set of vaguely suggestive parenthesis. ;-)
posted by iamkimiam at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2007

Since you asked what I would do - I would not have (s) in there in the first place. Probably do the same as googly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:30 PM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: I've decided to agree with the majority here and rewrite the sentence. Since removing the parentheses aren't really an option, I've phrased it similarly to mkulta's first suggestion. Thanks!
posted by magacid at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2007

It is the players' stadium; implying that the players are plural and they collectively own a stadium. At least, that's correct in Australia and therefore probably the UK.
posted by polyglot at 4:11 PM on February 28, 2007

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