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Plural possessive of 'lens' Options
irvf
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:39:06 AM
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What would be the proper plural possessive form of the word 'lens' in the following sentence?
'The lenses' (???) surfaces were found to be free of scratches.'
grammargeek
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:50:21 AM

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irvf wrote:
What would be the proper plural possessive form of the word 'lens' in the following sentence?
'The lenses' (???) surfaces were found to be free of scratches.'


You've got it right.

The lenses' surfaces were found to be free of scratches.
irvf
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:55:02 AM
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Thanks.

After posting, I realized that the real question troubling me is the singular possessive form. How would you punctuate

'The lens' (???) surface had an anti-glare coating.'
grammargeek
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:06:46 PM

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irvf wrote:
Thanks.

After posting, I realized that the real question troubling me is the singular possessive form. How would you punctuate

'The lens' (???) surface had an anti-glare coating.'


I would write your revised sentence like this:

The lens's surface had an anti-glare coating.

Barron's 1001 Pitfalls in English Grammar, 3rd edition, states the rule thusly:

In singular one-syllable nouns ending in the s or z sound, it is customary to add the apostrophe and s and to pronounce the possessive as if it ended in es: the boss's hat.

Now there is another issue to consider. I must admit that I did not think of this when I answered your first question regarding plural possessive use, but I still would not change what I said. The issue is that some grammarians say that inanimate objects cannot possess things; therefore, adding the 's would not be appropriate. For example, instead of saying the lens's surface, you'd say the surface of the lens. However, other grammarians recognize exceptions or consider the rule to be outdated altogether. (I now remember that there was some discussion about this rule in one of the TFD forums several months ago, but I don't remember the exact name of the topic.) Personally, I see no reason why an inanimate object cannot be said to possess its parts or its qualities.
irvf
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:09:52 PM
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Thank you so much!
grammargeek
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:12:13 PM

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You're welcome.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:48:19 PM

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grammargeek wrote:

Now there is another issue to consider. I must admit that I did not think of this when I answered your first question regarding plural possessive use, but I still would not change what I said. The issue is that some grammarians say that inanimate objects cannot possess things; therefore, adding the 's would not be appropriate. For example, instead of saying the lens's surface, you'd say the surface of the lens. However, other grammarians recognize exceptions or consider the rule to be outdated altogether. (I now remember that there was some discussion about this rule in one of the TFD forums several months ago, but I don't remember the exact name of the topic.) Personally, I see no reason why an inanimate object cannot be said to possess its parts or its qualities.


My school-English was learned back in the 60's and 70's. I would also say the surface of the lens. I didn't remember any grammar rule for that, just felt it would be more appropriate.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 2:04:29 AM

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Ya know, you could just use lens as an adjective and write "lens surface" (or "lens surfaces").

}- Luftmarque لوفتمارك -{ Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde.—Voltaire
valenarwen
Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009 9:39:47 AM

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Luftmarque wrote:
Ya know, you could just use lens as an adjective and write "lens surface" (or "lens surfaces").


I agree. You could also go with 'The lens' surface'





"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too" - Voltaire
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