Thanks in advance for your help. My question concerns a particular part of a sentence. I have seen examples but still confuse myself.

When referring to many patients should it be "each of our patient's needs" or "each of our patients' needs."

"each of our patient's needs" sounds like we have one patient and each of his needs are being met

They have more than one patient, so without each it would be "our patients' needs"

Does each not refer to their needs? Each of their(plural) needs!

For example:

What if I said "Each of our patient's wives." Wouldn't "patient's" make it possessive and sound like our patient had multiple wives? But "each of our patients' wives" sounds like we have many patients who each have a wife.

Why is "each of our patients' needs" wrong when "each of our patient's needs" sounds like they have one patient and take care of each of his needs. Seems like it shouldn't be.


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Hi michael. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to English Forums.

Phew! I thought I was the only one capapable of that kind of overkill!

As far as I can see, you have it all exactly right.

Ironically, "each of our patients' needs" and "all of our patients' needs" amount to the same thing.

The needs all go into a pool, and we take care of each one in the pool. Some patients surely have multiple needs, and others may temporarily have none.

I think you covered all the bases, but don't hesitate to follow up.

Best wishes, - A.
Michael, welcome!
You have posed a knotty question! Here are some thoughts. When I have trouble with possessives, I think of the equivalent "of" construction. In this case, I think you mean:

the needs of (each of our patients)...
The possessive ending ('s or ') can be applied to a phrase, for eample: the (Queen of England)'s pet terriers, the (man next door)'s yellow Ford, or (Jack Jones)' wild cat.

So, connecting the dots.. the phrase we want to make possessive is "each of our patients,", so the possessive form would be: (each of our patients)' needs. We have to apply the rule that if the noun phrase ends in s, it is only the apostrophe, not 's that is added.

It is pretty clear that there are many patients and many needs.
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michaelb Why is "each of our patients' needs" wrong when "each of our patient's needs" sounds like they have one patient and take care of each of his needs. Seems like it shouldn't be.
I guess I misread this. Where is the suggestion that it's wrong?

I think the difference between "needs" and "wives" is contextual, at least in the US. (Although some of our ex-wives get pretty needy.)

One doesn't have to ponder over the fact that zero to one legal wives may be assumed, or the fact that patients often have multiple needs. These are common parts of our daily lives, and the knowledge colors the phrases as we read them.
The suggestion that it's wrong didn't come from anyone here. I was told that it's wrong and came here looking for the right answer.
So, from the first two responses, which are much appreciated, it seems as though "each of our patients' needs" is correct.

Thank you for your help!!! Glad I joined the forum.

Thanks again!!!!!
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michaelb I have seen examples but still confuse myself.
Okay, got it.

Your original explanation was so thorough and clearly successful in defending patients' that I thought you only needed confirmation.

I think there's no question it's the correct solution.
If there are no objections by tonight, I'll go in tomorrow with a case.

Haha, that statement about overkill cracked me up! I guess I CAN get long winded sometimes.
Haha, thanks Avangi. I apologize if I confused you but I sincerely appreciate your help.

Indeed, I needed confirmation because this was debated today at work. I thought I was right but when the objection came up, I questioned it and thought I made a mistake.
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