Possessive of a word that’s already possessive?
There’s a bar near me named O’Leary’s Irish Pub—or just O’Leary’s for short. One day, they changed their menu. I wrote to a friend:
“O’Leary’s has changed their menu. O’Leary’s’s menu no longer has beer-battered onion rings.”
Is this usage correct?
I always use “ ’s ” to denote singular possessive—Charles’s office, Russ’s phone, Lars’s car, Baggins’s sword—so O’Leary’s’s seems completely natural to me. But several of my friends say it is wrong. Why?
The way I see it, it’s like this:
Finnegan O’Leary works hard at O’Leary’s Irish Pub.
The O’Learys are a friendly family. The O’Learys’ house is on Beacon Street. O’Leary’s’s menu is new. Many O’Leary’s’ doors have closed (meaning: the doors of many places named O’Leary’s over the years have closed).
p.s.—What about “My Night at Maud’s’s plot”?
If it is Finnegan O’Leary’s pub, (the pub is owned by Finnegan O’Leary) then it is O’Leary’s menu, or O’leary’s Irish Pub’s menu.
- for singular nouns, add a ‘s, as in the cat’s meow.
- for plural nouns ending in s, add the apostrophe at the end, as in the boys’ clubhouse
- for plural nouns not ending in s, add ‘s, as in sheep’s wool.
So, in your case, since the pub and the pub’s menu belong to Mr. O’Leary, the first rule applies, and they are O’Leary’s items.
Now if if wife Ruth buys a steak house from a guy named Chris, well, that is another story…