Okay, Steve Serby, who wrote No Substitute for Sundays: Brett Favre and His Year in the Huddle with the New York Jets, must have dealt with the question. Was Brett Favre a Jets’ quarterback, a Jet quarterback, or a Jets quarterback? Will he face the Jets’ Sanchez as a Vikings’ quarterback?

 

 

Anyone who writes sports deals with this question. And understanding it leads to some interesting grammar: attributive nouns vs the possessive and genitive cases.

 

First off, adjectives are not the only words that modify nouns in English. Lots of nouns modify other nouns all time; just think of woman president, high school principal, chicken soup, land speed record, grammar blog, and others. When a noun is used to modify another noun, it’s called an attributive noun or a noun adjunct. (Try sprinkling that tasty tidbit o’ grammar in the middle of the conversation about the tortilla chips on Sunday.)

 

But things get sticky quickly. Consider the players’ locker room. Is players an attributive noun? Or a possessive? Is it a locker room belonging to players—i.e., they possess it and thus deserve an apostrophe? Or is it a locker room for the plumbers, in which case it is a genitive and also deserves an apostrophe? (Geek note: The genitive case is a subtle and rather archaic relative of the possessive case, known mainly by classicists and others obsessed by case grammar. In practice, just treat genitives like possessives. Don’t’ talk about them. Or risk a beating by your fellow fans who just want to watch the game already.)

 

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) comes down squarely on the side of using the apostrophe when there is any question about whether a modifier is a possessive or an attributive noun. (See CMOS 15, 7.27.)  Most sports periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, and websites, which follow the AP Stylebook, do not. There, team names are treated as attributive nouns. I admit I have done and continue to do this myself, despite Chicago’s rather fussy strictures.  Yet, when I’m writing about the Jets’ Sanchez, I want that apostrophe!

 

 

J-E-T-S, Jets’ Jets JETS! Where do you come down on this question? 

0 Kudos
Comments
by Boo-Boo402 on ‎01-06-2011 02:17 AM

I can without a doubt say that "Jet quarterback" is out of the question.  The only time that would work is if you said, "Brett Favre was a Jet, then he harassed the entire staff and was sent away."  It would simply sound weird to make it plural there, but otherwise fans don't like seeing their team name changed.

 

As for "Jets' Sanchez," I completely agree.  In this case, Sanchez is seen as belonging to the gets.  However, "Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez," would have no apostraphe.  In my view, Sanchez is seen as a quarterback for the Jets, not one owned by the Jets (although he kind of is). 

 

Also, just an editing note -- You wrote "plumbers" in the locker room section.  I'm sure they'd love their own locker room though!

About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

Advertisement

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Categories