Possessives and Attributives

Q. My editor keeps correcting my possessive. Which is correct? (One person owns the house but several people live there.) We went to the Kerr’s or We went to the Kerrs’ or We went to the Kerrs. I used the first one and she says it’s wrong. Thank you so much.

A. Your editor is right. The Kerr family consists of more than one person, so for starters they need to be in the plural: Kerrs. This is logical—we add an s to most nouns to make them plural (one cat, two cats; one Kerr, two Kerrs). Then, to make it possessive, you add the apostrophe: Kerrs’. If, on the other hand, Mary Kerr owns the place and has unrelated roommates, then you are stuck with writing “We went to Mary Kerr’s” (or “We went to Mary’s”). Since we would not refer to Mary as “the Kerr,” we wouldn’t refer to her house as “the Kerr’s house.”