In 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.