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Apostrophe for common noun Options
Hemant Patel 1
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 11:12:03 PM

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I would like to know if all the forms below are correct with the apostrophe.

actress's dress
actresses' dresses (multiple dresses belong or are used by many actresses randomly or each actress has its own dress)
actresses' dress (I want to mean one dress belongs to or is used by many actresses)

Also I want to know if the below is correct.

actress' shirt (if a singular noun ending in s is followed by a word beginning with s, use only the apostrophe, not 's)
palapaguy
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:03:29 AM

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The first three are fine.

I think the fourth should be treated like the third, and the punctuation of "actress" should be the same in both.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:11:52 AM

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Hi!

The meanings which I would normally understand from these are:

actress's dress - the dress owned or worn by an actress
actresses' dresses (each actress has her own dress)
actresses' dress (one dress is used by many actresses) - this one is not a likely combination, really, but is possible.

At the premiere, when the couple arrived, the actor's suit was blue and the actress's dress was green.
When they all came on stage for the finale, the actors' suits were blue and the actresses' dresses were green.

In the 'props room', there were costumes which had been used for "The Birdcage" (a play in which both actresses and many actors wear dresses) by several troupes of players over the years. One particular actresses' outfit was so popular that, when it wore out, an identical one was made.

The last one is correct, but would not normally be used because it sounds exactly the same as "actress's outfit", and could be misunderstood (even with the earlier sentence for context). It would be more likely for someone to say "One particular outfit worn by the female lead was so fine . . ." or something like that.
However, in normal circumstances, "actresses'" would be redundant (you would not call the outfit worn by a male actor "a dress", so you would just say:
In the 'props room', there were costumes which had been used by several troupes of players over the years. One particular dress was so popular that, when it wore out, an identical one was made.

Just as an added note, these days, "actor" is used for both male and female actors. Many women (not all) dislike the term 'actress'. In the circumstances I have shown above (in which you are differentiating between two people or two groups) it would probably be accepted.

**************
"actress' shirt" is not correct.

EDITED to add:
Palapaguy answered while I was 'waffling' - but I agree with that answer.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:28:12 AM

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Just so that you know what I was talking about, this is a scene from "The Birdcage".



The actresses' dresses are rather plain, but the actor's dress is more flamboyant.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
TMe
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 11:10:18 AM

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DragO sir, what is the difference between actress's dress and actress dress?

I am a layman.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 11:34:51 AM
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Drago has hit upon a rather interesting point with the "actor" word.

It's not a "new" or "politically correct" concept. For years it has been a point to separate those who work in Theatre as "actors" - both male, female, or anything in between; leaving the term "actress" to refer to vacuous, pretty girls whose only knowledge of acting is how to look sexy or cute on camera. Hollywood has produced thousands of these women over the years and they are forgotten the minute they hit their 30's! Whereas an 'actor' - Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith - has studied, and continues to learn, the "Art" of acting. Thus people like Meryl Streep, and Dustin Hoffman are regarded as "actors" even though they work predominantly in film.

The innuendo, nuance and culture behind calling someone an "actress" differs completely to the way we think about "actors". Though some are meticulous about using "actor" across the board to refer to both theatre or movie principals; those who are involved with the Theatre still cling to the older distinction.

ps. Sometimes it's actually pronounced "Ac-TOR" when one wants to make the distinction clear! e.g. "Meryl Streep? Ah, now she's an act-TOR.")
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:38:09 PM

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TMe wrote:
DragO sir, what is the difference between actress's dress and actress dress?

Hi!

Can you think of a sentence in which the phrase "actress dress" would be used?
I can't.

"The actress's dress" means "the dress belonging to or being worn by the actress". "Actress's" is a possessive.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Hemant Patel 1
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018 9:51:43 PM

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What about a thing or things owned by two or more persons? Are the below the correct way to use apostrophe?

Mary and his car is expensive. (Here I want to mean only one car belongs to two persons)
Mary's and his cars are expensive (Here I want to mean Mary's car and his car - two cars)

How can I use apostrophe with possessive pronouns when the object or objects are owned by two people?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:38:21 PM

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This is not a very common problem - but it is one which causes misunderstandings.

This is the 'rule' from one college:
Quote:
4. A less-often faced decision involves the use of apostrophes where multiple owners are named. Where two or more people own one item together, place an apostrophe before an "s" only after the second-named person. For example:
Incorrect: Bill's and Mary's car was . . .

Correct: Bill and Mary's car was . . .

However, when two or more people own two or more items separately, each individual's name should take the possessive form. For example:

Incorrect: Joanne and Todd's cars were . . .

Correct: Joanne's and Todd's cars were . . .


So your examples are correct:
Mary and his car is expensive. (only one car belongs to two persons)
Mary's and his cars are expensive (Mary's car and his car - two cars)

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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