Hi all,

I have recently started reading the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy. I've read the first two and really enjoyed them, so treated myself to the last in the series today.

This is where my question lies. The title on the book I bought today is 'The girl who kicked the hornets' nest.' However, from my understanding of apostrophe use it should be 'The girl who kicked the hornet's nest,' as a hornet is singular and nest possessive. Or maybe I'm wrong?

Would someone please clarify this for me, please?

Thanking you in advance.

xx
curiousgirlfrom my understanding of apostrophe use it should be 'The girl who kicked the hornet's nest,'
Emotion: shake No.

If there were only one hornet, it would be hornet's nest. But nests of hornets never consist of a single hornet so you can't use that.

The nest of many hornets is the hornets' nest.

curiousgirla hornet is singular and nest possessive.
No, as explained above. hornets' is a possessive; nest is not a possessive.

Singular Plural Singular Possessive Plural Possessive

hornet hornets hornet's hornets'

bird birds bird's birds'

cat cats cat's cats'

CJ
Ah! Thanks for clarifying that, Jim. Makes sense when it's explained like that! Emotion: smile

All the best.
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CalifJimIf there were only one hornet, it would be hornet's nest. But nests of hornets never consist of a single hornet so you can't use that.The nest of many hornets is the hornets' nest.

Califijm, it depends. Your answer applies if one is speaking of a girl who really did kick a hornets' nest. However, this term is also a common noun phrase meaning 'a troublesome or hazardous situation' or 'an angry reaction.' For example, "I don't want to stir up a hornet's nest." In this case, according to the Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam Webster dictionaries, the correct way to write this expression is 'hornet's nest.'

Thanks for that, EFL Teacher Carlos.

I wish I had known that nine years ago so I could have added it to my explanation of possessives. It never hurts to dazzle students with lots of exceptions to the rules, does it? Emotion: smile

In the meantime, maybe you didn't realize this was a very old thread and the OP is probably not around anymore to appreciate your research on this topic.

Why not answer questions that are more recent? That way there's a better chance that the person who asked the question is still participating on our forum and can benefit from your answer.

CJ

LOL, the only reason I commented was because a student who had come across the expression "stir up a hornet's nest" and had a doubt, found this thread on the Internet. Persons may come and go from forums, but answers remain on the web for others to see and be guided or misguided by. As for dazzling students, I'll leave that up to you. Cheers!

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