Compound Possessive Pronoun Strings, or Who Owns that Dog, Anyway?

Windy is Doug's and My DogIn the last post, we discussed compound pronoun strings, such as you and I and you and me. Today we are going to throw possession and nouns into the mix. For example, is Windy Doug and my dog, Doug’s and my dog, or Doug and I’s dog?

Before we investigate this intriguing question of canine custody, let’s review the general rules for regular possession:

Rule 1: If ownership is shared, attach an apostrophe s to the final possessive noun: Bart and Lisa’s little sister Maggie shot Mr. Burns. (Maggie is the sister of both Bart and Lisa.)

Rule 2: If ownership is not shared, attach an apostrophe s to each possessive noun: Puddy fixed Jerry’s and George’s cars. (Jerry and George own separate cars.)

While these rules are applicable to regular nouns, they don’t apply to pronouns because only contracted pronouns (e.g., it’s for it is) end with an apostrophe s. When indicating pronoun ownership, we rely on the possessive forms, such as my, mine, his, her, hers, their, theirs, our, ours, and its. Therefore, we can eliminate Doug and I’s dog as a possible option.

Now we are left with Doug and my dog versus Doug’s and my dog. Although Windy is one dog owned by both Doug and myself, the pronoun my forces us to discard Rule 1 and move to Rule 3:

Rule 3: When combining nouns and pronouns in compound possession, attach an apostrophe s to each noun.

So, Doug’s and my dog is correct. By formatting the possession in this manner, we avoid awkward sentences like “Doug and my dog Windy rolled in the grass,” which could mistakenly be interpreted as “Doug, and a dog named Windy that I own independently, both rolled in the grass.”

Of course, we all know that no one actually owns a dog–dogs own us!

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in small business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

You and I versus You and Me: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

You and I looked at the Chicago Skyline or You and me looked at the Chicago Skyline?My good friend Lisa challenged me to tackle the conflict between first person pronouns within compound subject and object strings such as you and I versus you and me. Because I hate to see strife between perfectly decent pronouns, I gladly accept this challenge!

Technically, correct usage is determined by the pronoun’s position as a subject (I) or object (me) in the sentence. However, here is a quick tip: Just eliminate the other person. I know, I know, eliminating people sounds so rude! But don’t worry, we can welcome these poor individuals back into our sentences as soon as we decide if we are an I or a me.

First, let’s look at an example with two pronouns:

1. You and me went to the store.

2. You and I went to the store.

By removing you, Example 2 becomes the obvious choice because “me went to the store” is just terribly wrong–unless you are a caveman character in a really bad movie.

Let’s continue with a new example involving a noun (Mom):

1. Lois sent a postcard to Mom and me.

2. Lois sent a postcard to Mom and I.

After eliminating Mom (so harsh!), we can see that Example 1 is correct because we wouldn’t say “Lois sent a postcard to I.”

In an upcoming post, we will examine I, mine, and my within compound possessive strings. For example, should we write Doug and I’s dog, Doug and my dog, or Doug’s and my dog?

We may not achieve world peace, but at least we can strive for harmony between first person pronouns, right?

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in small business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.