Forming Compound Possessives
(Nouns & Possessive Pronouns)

Forming compound possessives with nouns and possessive pronouns can be tricky.

Take this tiny quiz, and then we'll go over the rules for forming compound possessives.

Tiny Quiz

1. ____________ dog dug up my garden.

a) Mary and John's
b) Mary's and John's
2. ______________ cat chased their dog.

a) Dan and my
b) Dan's and my
c) Dan and my's

Compound Possessive Nouns

Two or More Owners Sharing Ownership

When you have two or more nouns that you are making into a compound possessive, add 's to only the last noun if the nouns are functioning as one unit.

Margo and Martha's business was booming.

This means that Margo and Martha share ownership of a booming business. Since Margo and Martha are working together at one business, we only add the 's to the last noun, Martha.

Two or More Owners With Separate Ownership

When you have two or more nouns that you are making into a compound possessive, add 's to both nouns if they are functioning separately.

Margo's and Martha's businesses were booming.

This means that Margo and Martha have separate businesses that were booming. Since they own different businesses, we add the 's to both Margo and Martha.

Compound Possessive Nouns & Pronouns

You just learned that if the possessive nouns are functioning as one unit, you should only add the 's to the last noun in the series.

But what should you do if you are adding a possessive personal pronoun into the mix?!

In that case, add an 's to the noun that comes before the pronoun.

You don't have to add an 's to the possessive pronoun because it is already possessive.

Bill's and my cat ate dog food.

The car is Elizabeth's and mine.

Today is Jeremy, Catherine's, and my last day of school.

Quiz Answers

ANSWER --> a) Mary and John's dog dug up my garden.

Since this dog belongs to both Mary and John, the apostrophe goes only after the noun John.
ANSWER --> b) Dan's and my cat chased their dog.

Since this has a noun and a possessive personal pronoun, the noun Dan needs to have an 's. The possessive personal pronoun my doesn't need an 's because it is already possessive.

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