A Good Blogger Always …

… admits when he is wrong, as did Jim Hufford regarding the plural possessive of “attorney general.” He returns to this most pressing of grammatical issues and gets a little help from the 14th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

I am loath to report that, contrary to all sense and logic in the universe, I was sort of wrong about attorneys general’s. …

When the “head noun” is at the left of the phrase, as in brother-in-law, the phrase is pluralized by adding –s to the head noun. But the possessive inflection ‘s goes at the end of the phrase—no matter what kind of word the phrase ends with—as in, alas, brothers-in-law’s. Also: You can borrow whoever finishes first’s pencil. Or They will ride in whomever your sisters-in-law’s friends are going with’s cars! And, yes:

The Attorneys General’s arguments are bogus.

Awkward! That’s why the Chicago Manual of Style also recommends a rewording, as in, “The arguments of the Attorneys General are bogus.” Another approach that works in the case of attorney general is to use the acronym. “The AG’s arguments are bogus.”

Good. That’s cleared up.

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