What is the possessive of McDonald's?

If a guy named McDonald has a hamburger, clearly it’s McDonald’s hamburger. But what about a hamburger owned by McDonald’s, the corporation? Is it still McDonald’s hamburger? Or it is McDonalds’s hamburger, or god forbid, McDonald’s’s hamburger?

McDonald’s hamburger. (wasn’t that easy).

for more than one:

McDonalds’ hamburger.


McDonalds’ Hamburgers

No, that would be McDonald’s hamburgers. There’s no reason to make a possessive adjective plural.

As the apostrophe-within-a-noun is their own creation, I guess they get first call on how it’s used. I just skimmed through a dozen pages on the McDonald’s corporate website, and could only find one possessive - which was rephrased as “McDonald’s Corporation’s…”. So I suspect they’re aware of the potential confusion, and avoid using the name as a possessive whenever possible.

The UK supermarket Sainsbury’s is another one where this question would apply.

“McDonald’s hamburgers” are hamburgers belonging to McDonald, not belonging to McDonald’s.

Cite? I would say it would be either; there is no real way in English to make a possessive of a possessive.

Certainly there is. The possessive form is a contraction of a now unused inflected ending. That ending will be added to the noun being put into the genitive case. Since the noun itself has a contraction, there will be two contractions in the word, hence “McDonald’s’ hamburger.”

Nope. I have to go with Colibri on this one, unless you can cite a reputable stylebook that says otherwise.

McDonald’s Hamburger
McDonald’s Hamburgers

Certainly not “McDonalds’ Hamburgers”

Has anyone ever seen “McDonald’s’s hamburger” in print?

This is why I went digging about in McDonald’s’s (heh heh) corporate guff. Even they avoid making a decision about how to write such things.

Where’s the capitalisation coming from? With that, you’re turning it into another corporate title, with all the exemptions from grammar that this entails.

Not always. Check this out, from http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/values/diversity/franchising.html (bolding added):

Now, we do have to be careful in interpretting these uses because one might argue that they are attributive nominals rather than possessives, but try replacing either of the above uses with a clearly non-possessive name: “Burger King success is often…”, “…each support the weight of Burger King system equally.” I don’t think so.

So if you accept the idea that Mcdonald’s gets to choose its own possessive, it looks like they’ve chosen “McDonald’s”.

Sorry. I have titles on my brain right now. “Hamburger,” of course, is not to be capitalized.

Nice find - that’s the kind of thing I was looking for!

So yes, I do accept that they get to choose. The alternative seems to be like telling somebody they don’t know how to spell their own name.

Just call it “inventory.”

The number of hamburgers owned by the McDonald’s Corporation in question is irrelevant to a discussion of the possessive form of the proper noun “McDonald’s.” So I don’t understand the discussion of “McDonald’s hamburger” and “McDonald’s hamburgers.” Either way, it wouldn’t affect the way to style “McDonald’s’.”

McDonald’s hamburger - a single hamburger owned by a person named McDonald.

McDonald’s hamburgers - more than one hamburger owned by the same person.

McDonald’s’ hamburger - a single hamburger owned by the company called “McDonald’s.”

McDonald’s’ hamburgers - more than one hamburger owned by the same company.

I do not agree that the McDonald’s Corporation gets to decide what the possessive form of its name will be in “proper” English. The issue should be decided by application of the general rule, over-ruled if need be to make the result more stylistically appealing (which is why we HAVE manuals of style). Someone is free to quote from an applicable manual of style to support the theory that the proper spelling ignores the general rule; in the absence of such a reference, the general rule applies “properly.”

McDonald’s, of course, probably doesn’t care about “style” per se, and uses what they use because it is what the people who run the company want to see. :slight_smile:

How do you figure this? Singular nouns get apostrophe-s, normally, even if they end in “s.”

Anyhow, I have never ever ever seen something as silly as “McDonald’s’” or “McDonald’s’s” in print. You’re the one making the extraordinary claim, so you need to find a reputable citation, not us.

Sorry, I should clarify.

The Chicago Manual of Style (which I think is applicable to most writers here) recommends the apostrophe-s after proper names.

The AP Style does not.

A cite":

(emphasis mine).

Thank you, pulykamell. That’s what I thought the case was.

The form MacDonald’s’ simply doesn’t exist in English.

As a technical writer, I avoid the McDonald’s problem by not buying hamburgers there. :slight_smile:

However, there are a number of other organisations in Canada which have suffered from the Apostropne Problem. Some of these have resolved the problem (or not) as follows:

The Eaton’s department store
Formally known as “The T. Eaton Company”, this company had a number of run-ins with the Apostrophe Problem. In Quebec it eliminated the apostrophe-s ending altogether and simply called itself “Eaton”. This only delayed the inevitable: eventually, after floundering in the marketplace, it went under. The remains were bought by Sears. The name survives in shopping malls in cities all over Canada, malls named “The Eaton Centre” or “Centre Eaton”.

The Simpson’s department store
Like Eaton’s, this department store was named after its founder. Early on, it appears to have dropped the apostrophe altogether. This did not prevent it partnering with The Sears Roebuck Company of the USA, forming a new Simpsons-Sears, which expanded across the country. The original “Simpsons” part of the company was owned by The Hudson’s Bay Company for a time, but eventually Simpsons-Sears bought it as well, and changed the name of the whole entity simply to Sears Canada.

The Woolworth’s department store
Changed its name to Woolco back in the seventies or eighties. This did not prevent all its Canadian outlets being bought by Wal-Mart, thus heralding the Invasion of the US Big-Box Retailers.

The Canadian Tire hardware and automotive supply store
No apostrophes in the name. Still going strong.

The Zeller’s department store
This store was also named after its founder. It dropped the apostrophe, became known as Zellers, and was bought by The Hudson’s Bay Company. It survives as HBC’s discount store brand.

The Hudson’s Bay Company
This ancient company started with the fur trade in the 1670s, but now exists as a department store. It retains its apostrophe, but the apostrophe remains safely enclosed in the centre of the name. So far, this has prevented a takeover, but even so, I see that the company now prefers to be known as HBC. This is clearly a pre-emptive move against future actions by Wal-Mart.

The Sears department store
Sears solved the Apostrophe Problem by being named after someone whose name actually ended in S, and was thus legitimately able to pluralise its name. This lack of grammatical confusion clearly led to corporate strength, as it was able to acquire both Simpson’s and Eaton’s. So far, it has not been acquired by Wal-Mart.

It is clear from these corporate maneuvrings that being unable to pluralise their names weakens companies. Corporate officers! Rise up! Fight the Apostrophe Problem! You have only your confusion to lose!

Another way to forestall the apostrophe problem is to name your store without an “s”. Thus, Marks and Spencer. Doesn’t stop everyone calling it Marks and Spencer’s, though. When they’re not calling it M&S or Marks and Sparks. Or, today, perhaps, that place where my mum buys underpants fopr my dad.