Friday, 29 June 2007

Getting on my goat

img src="" border="0" title="We've moved to" alt="We've moved to" />
Miss Q from McScotchville writes:

'Dear GrammarBloggers,

In purchasing cheese derived from the milk of a goat, I want to make sure I buy the most ideologically sound brand. I have seen "goats cheese", "goat's cheese" and "goats' cheese" in my local middle-class deli.

Is it the case that there should be no apostrophe because it doesn't actually belong to the goat/s, it just comes from the goat/s?

For which should I plump?'.

All suggestions are as welcome as cheese to a Barnsley-supporting man from Wakefield (are in-jokes strictly a good way to provoke interest in a Blog?)
Blogger Paul said...

"Goats cheese" has no apostrophe - I'd like to assume some sort of origin for the curdled milk. That's out.

To my mind Miss Q ought to purchase "goats' cheese". I think we must assume a plurality of source milk. To not do so puts quite a lot of pressure on one goat, doesn't it? Thus, if the source of milk is more than one goat, we must choose the plural possessive.

29 June 2007 at 17:06  
Blogger Gez said...

Interesting conundrum, Miss Q, and by the way thanks for getting in touch.

My thoughts are as follows:

1) Even though the milk no longer "belongs" to the goat it is still milk of goat and requires a possessive apostrophe.

2) Unless that bottle contains milk from one particular goat, I think a plural is required.

Therefore please only buy milk labelled as "Goats' Milk".

P.S. Please send all future queries to

29 June 2007 at 17:18  
Blogger Gez said...

I wasn't being a copycat, I was called away from my desk mid comment.

29 June 2007 at 17:18  
Blogger Tom said...

From my point of view, I think that the plural form is correct for another reason. We should not be talking literally when we say "goat's cheese"; rather, we're referring more abstractly to a food produced by a species, in this case 'goats'.

In that sense, I would also accept 'goat cheese', which for some reason seems less appetising. Possibly because it insinuates that the cheese is actually made from goat(s).

29 June 2007 at 18:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... if we say 'goat cheese' I would think the cheese is made from goats.. :D

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