Related grammar question

Subject: Related grammar question
From: "Downing, David" <david -dot- downing -at- fiserv -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L Writing" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 10:57:25 -0500

This question about possessives and plurals reminds me of another question I always trip over. When you use a plural possessive, should the thing being possessed be singular or plural, assuming each possessor is only possessing one thing? For example, should you say "The skirts' hems need to be raised," or "The skirts' hem needs to be raised"? One the one hand, since there are multiple skirts, there are multiple hems to raise, but on the other hand, each skirt only has one hem. But on the OTHER other hand, if you use the singular, it sounds like there's only one collective hem among all the skirts.

David Downing
Senior Technical Writer
Credit Union Solutions


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