I need a bit of help with this.

She is a photographer but that camera is her brother's-in-law


She is a photographer but that camera is her brother-in-law's

I am aware that I could change the construction to make things easier, like:

She is a photographer but that camera belongs to her brother-in-law

However, I would really like to find out what's the correct way to write the sentence.

  • 1
    brother-in-law is considered one word, so you would use "brother-in-law's". The dashes indicate this.
    – user3169
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:21
  • @J.R. I don't think you should edit in the dashes since that partly explains the answer.
    – user3169
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:22
  • user3169 explains it. It might make it easier to see if we use a different example: "That chair is the King of Spain's" - not "the King's of Spain"!
    – stangdon
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:24
  • @user3169 - That's a valid point. Feel free to edit them back out.
    – J.R.
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


The hyphenation in the word


makes it a compound noun, in which case the possessive is

brother-in-law's ( the plural possessive is brothers-in-law's )

even if the hyphens are not explicit, if a group of words are being treated as a compound noun, the possessive is at the end

the President of the United States' plane


the Queen of England's crown


the Greatest of All Time's smile


the hottest model in the world's hair

enter image description here

  • Good examples! But I can understand how this might be confusing for a learner, particularly since the plural form is brothers-in-law.
    – J.R.
    Jun 10, 2016 at 21:46

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