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Compounded nouns that are possessive

A compound noun is made up of two nouns joined by a conjunction, like ‘and’. For instance, ‘John and Mary’ is an example of a compound noun made up of the two nouns ‘John’ and ‘Mary’. There are two situations you need to deal with when you form possessives out of compounded nouns:

  • When each of the nouns in the compound noun owns their own thing, then you need to turn each of the nouns into a possessive noun.

  • When all of the nouns in the compound noun together own the thing, then you only need to change the last noun into a possessive noun.

So when each noun owns its own thing:

The fireman’s and policeman’s faces were covered in dust.

The fireman owns a face. The policeman also owns a face (different to the fireman’s).

When the nouns share ownership of something:

Mum and Dad’s business is going well.

The business is a thing that is owned by both Mum and Dad, so we only change the last noun in the compounded noun into the possessive form.