Possessives and Attributives

Q. How would this be punctuated correctly? “The AZ Group of Companies’, comprising ABC Machine Company, DEF Machine Company, and GHI Corporation, mission is to provide . . .” or “The AZ Group of Companies,’ comprising ABC Machine Company, DEF Machine Company, and GHI Corporation, mission is to provide . . .”? I’m writing a brochure and can’t find it anywhere online.

Q. How would you punctuate factor(s) to show both singular and plural possessive? The sentence reads “This results in the factor(s) outcome(s) being misread.”

Q. CMOS 7.17 cites “Kansas’s legislature” as an example, whereas 7.20 has “the United States’ role” as another. Am I correct to use “Paris’s sights,” “Philippines’ sights,” and “Seychelles’ sights” under 7.20? Could I also conclude that 7.17 is used mainly for states (like Kansas and Texas) in a country (like the US) and 7.20 strictly for countries?

Q. I’m wondering how you would handle a possessive of a city-and-state combination: While we were able to recast the sentence, suppose we need to express “the streets of Anytown, New York” as compactly as possible. “Anytown, New York’s, streets” puts the possessive squarely on “New York” because of the necessary comma—and you couldn’t do the logical “Anytown, New York,’s streets” as if the commas were parentheses! Or do we just bite the bullet and have an even longer sentence?

Q. Hello. I can’t find a clear answer to the question of how to form the possessive of an acronym, especially a plural one. For example, I see the use of an apostrophe without a following s used often (CBS’ programming). I think an s is appropriate in any case, including when the acronym itself is plural. Is this correct?

Q. Hello, I am copyediting an article and wish to know what the plural form of “master’s degree” is. I believe it should be “masters’ degrees,” as this would be most logical, but I would appreciate your input. All of the online forums I follow have different opinions regarding this matter, and no dictionaries provide a plural form, so I would like to clear up the matter with you. Thank you very much.

Q. Would one say, “He was a close friend of Gabriel’s” or “He was a close friend of Gabriel”? Is there a rule governing this?

Q. My colleagues and I are debating a grammar issue. We read the grammar rules, but we are still unclear. Here is the sentence: “Your employees are the business’s most valuable assets.” Business is singular but it could be interpreted as plural. Which of the following is correct?

Your employees are the business’ most valuable assets.


Your employees are the business’s most valuable assets.

Q. If a phrase is possessive in the first instance it is used, is the abbreviation possessive as well? For example, should it be “Student Psychological Help Line’s (SPHL) 24/7 assistance center” or “Student Psychological Help Line’s (SPHL’s) 24/7 assistance center”? I know that you answered this question already. However, your answer was to avoid that type of phrase. In my case, I work for a company in which the possessive phrase, which gets abbreviated, is part of a larger phrase. (The above example is real.) Hence, I need to know what to do if you absolutely have to use this sort of wording.

Q. An editor for a journal using CMOS has changed all of my plural possessives (patients’ suffering, positivists’ project) to, e.g., patients’s suffering, positivists’s project. This is incorrect. The former, not the latter, is correct. Yes?