possessive form with plural subjects

Larry and Tom own a hardware store. To me there are two possible ways to use the possessive form:

Larry and Tom’s hardware store.


Larry’s and Tom’s hardware store.

The first speaks and reads better – and I think is correct due to elision. (?)

Is the second grammatically correct ? It just sounds too clunky to me.

I’m a native speaker and write a lot, but this one’s bugged me for years. It’s probably a dupe question (sorry), but I can’t find the answer here or in style books.


Yup. Larry and Tom is a conjunct noun phrase, which makes Larry and Tom’s grammatically proper; and if the store belongs to Larry and Tom jointly it cannot be regarded as belonging entirely to either separately, which makes Larry and Tom’s semantically (and probably legally) proper as well.

The only problem is typographical: the ’s looks like it’s attached only to Tom. Think of it as Larry-and-Tom’s and it won’t bother you any more.

Source : Link , Question Author : Howard Pautz , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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