Possessive form needed?

0

The following phrase is in a book I'm reading:

 

Analyze a firm's cost position relative to its competitors.

 

Should it read competitors' instead of competitors? If no, why?

 

Thanks!  

asked Sep 20 '12 at 18:24 Jon New member

3 answers


2

No. The plural competitors is correct.

 

Changing it to competitor's would make it both singular (just one competitor) and possessive. But what do the competitors possess?

 

Now, I suppose that some might say that competitors should be both plural and possessive -- competitors' -- because the sentence is making an elliptical reference to "cost position." Analyze a firm's cost position relative to its competitors' cost position. However, because the sentence uses "relative to," I don't buy it.

 

I hope this helps.

link comment answered Sep 20 '12 at 18:34 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow
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The second part of your answer (plural and possessive) is what I'm trying to figure out. In regard to not buying it, is there a rule to follow? I was thinking that "relative to its competitors" might be describing the way you go about conducting the analysis and therefore the possessive form does not apply. I don't have a background in english or grammar so I apologize if this comes off unintelligent in any way. Thanks!

link answered Sep 20 '12 at 19:23 Jon New member

Your thought that "relative to" describes the way you go about conducting the analysis is why I said "I don't buy". Tolley's "implied possessive" is what I was trying to describe in the plural and possessive paragraph.

Jeff PribylSep 21 '12 at 00:25

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I like the last one - "Analyze a firm's cost position relative to the cost positions of its competitors." That sounds much better.

 

At the end of the day, could you simply add the apostrophe (see my original question)? Or add the apostrophe followed by "cost positions"?

 

Both of your answers were very helpful, thank you.

link comment answered Sep 20 '12 at 20:21 Jon New member

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