Grammar question -- apostrophe

Calling on those who remember what they learned in English classes! Which sentence below (if any) is correct?

  • (a) Will your brother John’s daughter be at the party?
  • (b) Will your brother Johns’ daughter be at the party?
  • (c) Will your brother Johns daughter be at the party?

I’ve looked online and the apostrophe is used to indicate the possessive . It doesn’t seem quite right to use the possessive (at least in the common meaning of possess) for a person as opposed to something John owns.

Sentence (c) seems wrong because it appears to make John plural.

(A). Possessive means relationship as well as ownership.


In grammar, “possessive” is not strictly ownership. “My” is a possessive pronoun, but “my wife” does not imply ownership.

A) is correct.


A is the correct sentence. Although B would be correct if the name is Johns not John.


A is correct. B would work for a plural noun but John is not plural.

Or for a name that ends in “s” like Chris.


Definitely A.

It’s also an appropriate time to remember the sad passing of the founder of The Apostrophe Society earlier this year. In all seriousness, I love folks like him. RIP, Sir.

(can’t figure out to link properly…easily found by searching “John Richards Apostrophe”)

John Richards, bulwark for the apostrophe against grammatical ‘barbarians,’ dies at 97


The first. It’s after the S in a name like James, in that case you could use James’ or James’s.

A. But its uncomfortable because there is too much possession going on in the sentence. “Your brother.” “John’s daughter.” A better sentence would be “will your brother’s daughter be there,” or “will John’s daughter be there.” Or better yet. “Is John bringing his daughter?” (And yes, I know I messed up the quote marks. I have a secretary for that normally!)

Or even better, “Will your niece, Susan, be at the party?” :grin:


Your niece is better than John’s daughter? I don’t see the difference.

Definitely A, but it is a wordy sentence.

In real life if you were talking with a friend you’d probably say, "Is John’s daughter coming to the party? The whole “your brother John” is a little odd and stilted for conversation. BUT yes, it’s definitely A. The other two are all kinds of wrong.

thanks for the help!

(B) would be OK if your brother’s last name was Hopkins!!

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Or, will the daughter of your brother John be at the party?

Trick question as both (A) & (B) may be correct.

If you disagree, please contact the English dept. at Johns Hopkins University.

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If the brother is named Johns?

When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.

Usually the question asks for the best option. John is a far more common name.

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This being a college site, I immediately thought is this John like my uncle, or Johns like the University. Perfectly legitimate thought.


This wouldn’t change the answer, but the only proper construction (a) may not be too common in that the possesive form extends to both John and the attributive noun, brother. By style, one might have expected “John’s daughter” to represent an unbound apposite clause, although, from context, this cannot be the case.