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parent's or parents'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Imladris, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Imladris Senior Member

    Turkey - Turkish
    Is that your parent's / parents' car?

    Is "parent's" wrong? Why?
     
  2. curlyboy20 Senior Member

    Lima, Peru.
    Peruvian Spanish.
    I wouldn't say it's wrong, it's just different. If you write "parent's" then you're talking about one parent. "That parent's child is misbehaving a lot at school". You're only refering to a particular parent.

    It follows that "parents'" would be plural. "The parents' child is misbehaving at school". Now you'd be referring to both parents.
     
  3. sukepeth Junior Member

    English -American
    Curlyboy20 is right.

    Look at whatever appears before the apostrophe.
    My parent's car = the car of my parent ("parent" comes before the apostrophe, so you're referring to only one person here)

    My parents' car = the car of my parents (because "parents" comes before the apostrophe.

    Another example:
    the girl's book = the book of the girl (singular)
    the girls' book = the book of the girls (more than one)
     
  4. Imladris Senior Member

    Turkey - Turkish
    What do you think about this?

    Is that ..........?

    a) the your parents' car
    b) your parent's car
    c) your parents' car

    from New English File Elementary Teacher's Book (Quick Tests) published by Oxford
     
  5. curlyboy20 Senior Member

    Lima, Peru.
    Peruvian Spanish.
    B and C would be correct. Letter A doesn't make sense.
     
  6. Imladris Senior Member

    Turkey - Turkish
    The key says C is correct. I try to understand why the writers (native speakers) used this question.
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The question-setter is making the reasonable assumption that we do not talk about my parent's car referring to a car belonging to only one parent.
    If the car belongs to one parent then it is either my father's car or my mother's car.
    While technically correct, my parent's car is very unlikely to be used naturally - and that is what the question-setter is expecting you to understand.
     
  8. Imladris Senior Member

    Turkey - Turkish
    Thank you, panjandrum. Your post has really helped.
     
  9. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    It's a cute idea that everyone has two parents who share a car!!

    I guess if you only had one parent you would tend to say:
    My mum's car
    or
    My dad's car.
     

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