Gent's shirt or gents' shirt

Tashlima

Senior Member
Hindi
Which one of the two is true? A gent's shirt or gents'shirt?
She is wearing a gent's/ gents' shirt.
Thanks in advance.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    This has probably been dealt with using other words - have you looked up man's/men's ?

    But if not, I'd say:
    • She is wearing a gent's shirt = She is wearing a shirt which belongs to a gent.
    • She is wearing a gents' shirt = She is wearing a shirt which was designed for a gent, but which belongs to her.
    (I should say that the use of gent, rather than man or gentleman, is old-fashioned.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I would take the phrase to be describing the type of shirt, not the fact that it is owned by a particular person.

    And because I would write man's shirt for a type of shirt rather than men's shirt, I would also write gent's shirt here rather than gents' shirt.

    But practice varies. As Keith and I are already demonstrating:).
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I entirely agree with Loob, if I heard the phrase I would take it to be describing the type of shirt. But that's because women don't usually go round stealing shirts, and the word gent is usually nowadays largely used by clothes retailers.

    However, if it were written out in full as gent's it certainly does mean she stole (or borrowed) it; compare "she was wearing John's shirt".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't think we are agreeing, Keith;).

    For me, a man's shirt/a gent's shirt can be either
    - a classifying genitive = a [man's shirt] /a [gent's shirt]
    or
    - a possessive genitive = [a man]'s shirt / [a gent]'s shirt.

    I take the phrase in the OP as a classifying genitive.

    Am I right that, for you, the classifying genitive would be a men's shirt?
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Am I right that, for you, the classifying genitive would be a men's shirt?
    In the Menswear department of the store Men's Warehouse, I would feel a bit silly asking for a man's shirt :) though I don't disagree with your point.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, it's interesting. With uncountable nouns like "clothing" or plurals like "shirts" or "dresses", I'd often be inclined to make the classifying genitive plural too. So She was wearing men's clothing or She was wearing men's clothes; but She was wearing a man's suit.

    I recall finding a learned paper on the whole issue once. But I can't remember what it said:oops:.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    My advice is not to use the word 'gent'.
    Well, I agree with that, Hermione - unless you're referring (in BrE) to men's toilets....

    But just out of interest - would you prefer (with the meaning "She is wearing a shirt tailored for the male physique"):
    She is wearing a man's shirt.
    Or
    She is wearing a men's shirt.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Is it really necessary to mention that the shirt was designed with men in mind? Why not just describe it as 'a shirt'?
    Erm, heypresto ... I often wear men's shirts, because they're nice and roomy.
    But they are decidedly different from women's shirts.
    The buttons do up the wrong way, for a start:D
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Erm, heypresto ... I often wear men's shirts, because they're nice and roomy.
    But they are decidedly different from women's shirts.
    The buttons do up the wrong way, for a start
    I don't doubt any of this (apart from the buttons being wrong ;) of course) but I was wondering if it was necessary to mention the fact that the shirt 'she' was wearing was a man's shirt.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I don't doubt any of this (apart from the buttons being wrong ;) of course) but I was wondering if it was necessary to mention the fact that the shirt 'she' was wearing was a man's shirt.
    Lady A: I love Bonnie's denim shirt with the faux mother-of-pearl snaps and I want one just like it. She said she bought it at the ABC department store yesterday but I looked all over the ladies' sportswear section and didn't see it.
    Lady B: That's because <drumroll> she's wearing a man's shirt.
    Lady A: For heaven's sake, dear. You mean a gent's shirt.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    but I was wondering if it was necessary to mention the fact that the shirt 'she' was wearing was a man's shirt.
    Do you mean that shirt on its own already indicates it's a man's item of clothing (as opposed to a blouse)?

    Or do you mean that all shirts look alike whether they're for men or women?

    And my usage is like Loob's (I'd say a man's shirt).
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I was just questioning how relevant it was that the shirt 'she' was wearing is a gent's/man's shirt, and how necessary it was to mention it. Why mention it at all?

    I can see now, after Roxxxanne's dialogue that there may, after all, be a context in which it is important. :)
     
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