1. jakeybum

    jakeybum Active Member

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    Plural possessive of “deer”

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jakeybum, Dec 27, 2017.

    If the plural possessive of “deer” is “deer’s” (as in, “The deer’s tracks were easy to follow once the animals entered the snowy woods”), how do we know whether we are talking about one deer or several deer?
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    That's an interesting one, and I'll need to hunt around for the answer. Meanwhile ...why not just 'deer tracks' as a work-around? (I'm a big believer in work-arounds. :) ) I know if I were reading this, I'd assume the 'deer's tracks' were made by only one deer, depending on the context. 'Deer tracks,' on the other hand, are simply the tracks made by deer. You could specify more ...it looked as if a herd of deer had passed this way, or several deer had left tracks, or something like that. Workarounds!
     
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  3. jakeybum

    jakeybum Active Member

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    Thank you, Jannert.

    It’s different with “mice’s” and “geese’s,” each of which are the plural possessives. It’s understandable in the words themselves, but not with “deer’s” for the plural possessive.

    I’ll hunt around, too, for an answer! :)
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I came up with this. Apparently 'deer's' is grammatically correct for both the singular and the plural ...but the problem is that unlike 'children's' or 'men's,' the meaning isn't clear. We know that 'children' is plural and that 'men' is also plural. But 'sheep,' or 'deer'? Not so easy. I think the workaround is actually the solution. Make it clear from the surrounding context whether the word is referring to one animal or more than one.

    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/qa/plural-possessive-deer-s-or-deers
     
  5. jakeybum

    jakeybum Active Member

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    Awesome! Thank you very much!
     

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