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What is the difference between the two sentences below? Are they the same or different in meaning?

Jack and Laura's new house is almost ready.

Jack's and Laura's new house is almost ready.

To my perception, the first says two of them have one house and the second says each one has a (different) house (which is almost ready). Is my perception correct?

EDIT: If I don't use "houses" instead of "house" (for my second interpretation), does it mean the sentence is wrong?

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Your first example sentence:

Jack and Laura's new house is almost ready.

has the meaning you mentioned; that there is one house and it belongs to both Jack and Laura.

The second example sentence:

Jack's and Laura's new house is almost ready.

Has the same meaning; there is one house that belongs to both of them. This is because of the section 'house is', which indicates a single house. If you were to change that part to 'houses are', the sentence would be talking about two or more houses.

Jack's and Laura's new houses are almost ready.

If 'houses are' is used to indicate there are more than one house, who owns which of the houses is not clear from the sentence. It says that both Jack and Laura have ownership in one or more of the houses, but the houses may all belong jointly to both of them, or some of the houses may belong to one and some to the other.

  • Since one of the possible meanings as mentioned by OP is that each party owns one (different) house, both of which are almost ready, it's worth pointing out that this can be unambiguously conveyed using Jack's new house, and Laura's, are almost ready. – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '18 at 14:04

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