Subscribe to The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Q. Our organization has a position called “director’s advisor.” There are about sixteen such advisors. I am editing a human resources paper on this position, and I have to figure out what the plural should be. There is an argument for making it “director’s advisors,” on the grounds that the job title itself is immutable, so if the text refers to several of them, an s should simply be placed at the end of the title. However, if there is one farmer and he has a field, it is a “farmer’s field.” The fields of several farmers would be referred to as “farmers’ fields.” Any assistance you can give in resolving this issue would be much appreciated!
A. If there is more than one director, then your analogy to farmers’ fields is apt, and “directors’ advisors” will work. (There’s nothing “immutable” about a title that prevents pluralizing it in this way.) If there is only one director, you don’t multiply her by having more than one advisor; in that case, the plural is “director’s advisors.”