One of my friends is about to start up her own business – acting as an agent for people wanting help in purchasing real estate – a Buyers’ Agent (as opposed to the normal type of real estate agent, who acts solely for the vendor).
She was showing off her new logo to us, when someone pointed out – shouldn’t it be “Buyers’ Agent”, rather than “Buyer’s Agent” ?
Now, being a bit of an aficionado of the oft-abused apostrophe (and brother of a self-confessed “apostrophe nazi”), I consulted my “trusty” reference, Lynne Truss’s book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (as opposed to Lynne Truss’ book, which I really don’t like – there should always be an extra ‘s’ on the end, except for exceptions, of course).
As for the plural possessive versus singular possessive, in this case I think there is room for debate.
Is she an agent for buyers or an agent for a buyer ?
Here’s the catch – I say she is both!
In general, she acts for all the buyers out there who wish to use her services, at which point she is a Buyers’ Agent, and indeed, her business would not be terriby successful (and the real estate market would be completely dead) if she was Buyer’s Agent for that one-and-only buyer out there !
However, when acting for an individual, she is indeed a Buyer’s Agent, she is the agent for that buyer at that time, and then she will proceed to be a Buyer’s Agent for her next client, then the next, and so forth.
So which is it ? Well, as this will be on her logo, and she is making a general statement, I would suggest that she should go with the former – she is a Buyers’ Agent … since she doesn’t want to give anyone who is over-observant, the impression that she only has or needs a single client!
But that’s just my opinion.
Hopefully it will be easy enough to have her logo corrected – I don’t think she had business cards or letterhead printed up yet!