Writing for Business

Aug 6 2012   12:29PM GMT

Compound possessives

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
______________ computers both really need to be defragged.
a. Bill and my
b. Bill’s and my
c. Mine and Bill’s

Answer: b.

To see that c. is wrong, just do the old trick of taking Bill out of the equation. “Mine computer really needs to be defragged” sounds a trifle affected, don’t you think?

Amd, assuming that Bill doesn’t need to be defragged, a. is also the wrong choice. (Bill may, of course — God knows I could stand a good defragging some days.) But if you mean that Bill’s computer and your computer both need to be defragged, pick b.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing — a great resource — offers lots more information on possessive forms.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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