Possessive Appositives

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How do you create a possessive for a noun that has an appositive?  For example, start with this sentence:

 

The television station took special note of its top reporter's appearance at the birthday party.

 

All fine and good with that sentence. Now, add to the sentence the reporter's name as an appositive.  Does it too require the possessive form?  For example,

 

The television station took special note of its top reporter's, John Redford's, appearance at the birthday party.

 

That doesn't seem right. Perhaps you use the possessive only for "reporter?"  Or  perhaps only for "John Redford?"  Does anyone here know?

asked Aug 25 '13 at 03:53 Robert B New member

3 answers


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The television station's on-air people took special note of the appearance of its top reporter, John Redford, at the birthday party.

link answered Aug 25 '13 at 11:14 Alan Cartwright New member

Thanks for taking the time to give me your answer. I appreciate it. Yes, recasting the sentence works. But at the time I asked the question, I was more interested in what the rule would be for the actual sentence syntax I was attempting. But I like your suggestion very much.

Robert BAug 25 '13 at 16:22

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their should replace its

The television station's on-air staff took special note of the appearance of their top reporter, John Stafford, at the birthday party.

link comment answered Aug 25 '13 at 11:18 Alan Cartwright New member
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Normally, a name doesn't require commas because it's considered essential information. With that in mind, the sentence can be written:

 

 The television station took special note of its top reporter John Redford's appearance at the birthday party.

link answered Aug 25 '13 at 13:20 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

Lewis, what you write is true: essential information is not set off with commas. But I considered the name John Redford in my sentence non-essential (there can be only one top reporter, for instance). In any case, considering the name John Redford essential begs the question. After thinking about this some more I believe the answer is that possessives are no longer appositives. An appositive must be a noun, but a possessive is really a sort of adjective. Stringing two nouns together in possessive form makes them no longer appositives. Thus my original sentence wouldn't really make sense as written. My intention had been to name parenthetically the top reporter. I now do not think this is possible using the syntax and structure I proposed. In other words, I was attempting to write something like this: The television station took special note of its top reporter's, John Redford, appearance at the birthday party. This makes no sense, however, because John Redford, a (proper) noun, cannot "non-essentially" refer back to a possessive. Recasting the sentence is really the only answer (I believe now). Robert BAug 25 '13 at 16:40

I agree with Lewis. While you might not care what the man's name is, I highly doubt that the television station would have any success in marketing an event with a "top reporter" that has no name or personality. It is the man who happens to be the top reporter that is making an appearance, not the top reporter who happens to be named John Somebody making an appearance.

Patty TAug 25 '13 at 16:56

In all of this, I could not help but notice that you ascribe human values to the television station. It cannot take special note of anything. It is the staff or the management that "took note" ...

Alan CartwrightSep 07 '13 at 13:31

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