Q: When there are two names involved in a possessive construction, I always get confused about whether I need one apostrophe + s or two. Can you help?
A: We all know sharing is caring, but the rules for describing joint possession can get a bit fuzzy.
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, if the possession of a thing (a rose garden) is the same for both subjects (best friends and neighbors Rupert and Delilah), then only the second subject gets the apostrophe.
Rupert and Delilah's rose garden is the envy of the entire village.
But if possession is discrete or questionable, then both names should be possessive.
So, when faced with a sentence that may contain joint possession, ask yourself if each subject has their own thing or if the thing in question is shared. Here are some other examples.
We hope this helps!
Have a question about writing or editing that you'd like to ask the team at Kirkus Editorial? Message us through facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.