Possessives and Attributives

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?

Q. My boss has told me that our company name should not have an apostrophe+s after it in proposals, reports, or text, even in a possessive situation. Her primary stated reason was that “it is cumbersome.” I understand, if we are talking about “the BigFirm Stress Team.” But in an instance like “One of BigFirm past projects,” I do not think it makes sense. If the intent of the sentence is to express ownership, you need an indication of that, which should be done with ’s, correct? I would prefer to say that we should tend toward the use of the attributive (“the BigFirm Stress Team”) but that there are instances where it would be more correct to use the possessive, in which case, we would: “One of BigFirm’s greatest success stories.” What do you think?

Q. I am agitated about the institutional inconsistency on this point and found the College Board to be of no help, so I turn to you. What is the proper treatment of an associate degree? As I have stated it, or is it “associates” or “associate’s”?

Q. Which is the correct singular possessive form? “Professor Davis’ class” or “Professor Davis’s class”? My history professor specifically requests our guide be the CMOS. Am I wrong that CMOS promotes both usages in this case?

Q. I just received a thank-you card from a recently married couple. Their card said, “Thank you for coming to John and I’s wedding.” I know this is incorrect, but what is the proper way of saying this? Wouldn’t “John’s and my wedding” suggest two separate weddings instead of one joint wedding? But “Thank you for coming to John and my wedding” doesn’t sound correct, either. Please help. This might drive me nuts.

Q. I’m writing a book about Death Valley National Park, and not sure what style to use for place-names that include possessives. The National Park Service omits apostrophes from all names—Scottys Castle, Dantes View, Devils Golf Course, etc.—which looks wrong to me. On the other hand, if I use the apostrophes my book won’t match the Park Service maps. What would you suggest?

Q. I’ve encountered a sentence that is giving me more confusion than it should. The sentence in question is this: “Enjoyment is not as an important function for courting as it is for dating.” I cannot figure out if it should read “as important a function.” I think if I could figure out what grammatical function “as” is serving in this sentence, I could make sense of it, but I have been staring at it long enough to addle my brain.

Q. I’m editing a book about employment training programs, and I can’t decide how to treat the term One-Stop Career Centers. I capitalize in that instance, but what about when the author says “one-stops” or “one-stop centers”? I am inclined to capitalize only when the entire title is used, but I’m having trouble sticking to that decision. Can you please tell me what you would do?

Q. What is the proper way to cite information found in a footnote? Take, for example, the following footnote: “2. It is however to be observed that in the given proposition there is a certain ambiguity.” I wish to cite this in the footnote of my own paper. In some works, I’ve seen what I suspect to be the same thing accomplished by appending the page number with “f,” e.g., 67f.