Hi everyone

I seem to have a grammar blind spot about the use of (and where not to use) apostrophes to indicate possession. For example:

  • business needs or business' needs ie the needs of the business.

  • to develop the headquarters site or should it be headquarter's site ie the site of the headquarter?
The confusion seems to arise when there is an 's' on the end of a word so, for exampe, I am completely comfortable with the writer's brief (even the writers' brief if talking about more than one writer).

Someone tried to explain why business needs should not take an apostrophe as the word 'business is being used as an adjective - is that correct.

I went to a primary school that concentrated mor on dressing up than the basics hence my conundrum!

Best wishes
Welcome to the forums!

My business needs = the needs that I have for running my business.

My business' needs = the needs of my businness (here, the business could belong to someone else and you just work for them)

They often overlap, but if you need to make the distinction, that's how to do it.
But often, using a noun as an adjective is idiomatic.

For example, we say the church tower, castle walls, a pirate ship, star wars, monkey business, monkey shines, monkey wrench , etc.
English is flexible about using words as different parts of speech, so these idioms proliferate. It must be very confusing for someone who is learning the language!
Use the possessive when the "belonging" relationship is very clear. For example, an arm's length is the length of an arm.
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Thanks for your reply. This is the sentence in context:

New, speculatively built accommodation is unlikely to meet business needs precisely

Looking at your two examples it looks like it should have an apostrophe ie:

unlikely to meet business' needs precisely

Problem with apostrophes is that they are used incorrectly all around us so it's often difficult to work out (well it is for me anyway!)


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