Dear Nancy: Two defense attorneys objected to the introduction of a document. The judge says to plaintiff’s attorney, “You have [counsels’/counsel’s] objections.” I’m not sure whether to transcribe it as a singular possessive or plural possessive. I am inclined to go with plural possessive, You would have counsels’ objections, but counsel is already plural, like children, so I’m thinking I need to transcribe it as counsel’s. I can’t decide and I need your opinion.
Signed, In Conflict with Myself
Dear In Conflict with Myself: Counsel is both a singular and plural noun (unlike children which is always plural.) More like sheep. You can have a sheep or many sheep. So a wolf in sheep’s clothing is the same construction as many wolves in [many] sheep’s clothing. Therefore, your first choice, counsel’s objections, would be grammatically correct.
But since this is an advice column, remember, if counsel (singular) is a wolf, his objections will have some teeth. And if counsel are sheep (plural), the objections probably make for a baaaaad argument. BUT, if counsel’s a fox and he’s single … well, you get the point!!