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General Writing and Grammar Help/RE: Library's children's department


Dear Ted:

I'm sorry to get back to you with the same subject but I still need your help.

Is it a case of "the double possessive" when we have two 'S's in a phrase like in "Library's children's department"?

If so, when is it used?

Would you please give me some other examples similar to "Library's children's department"?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.


Dear Paolo:


The store's women's restroom

The school's men's basketball team

Sue's aunt's jewelry


Paolo, I do not recommend any of these in formal writing.

Here is a note from a grammar site:

The most practical rule for writers is to avoid having two possessives in formal writing. If they occur, rewrite the sentence.

As for informal use, the double possessive is idiomatic in English and has been for a very long time.


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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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