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I am writing an essay and my teacher told us to use "Formal Academic English". Would using a possessive apostrophe like "Obama's decision to.." be considered informal? Don't tell me to ask my teacher, since its due tomorrow.

But more generally, I'd like to know whether the apostrophe genitive construction, e.g., Obama's decision can be freely interchanged with the of-PP construction, e.g., The decision of Obama in all cases.

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I am at a complete loss why you would consider the Saxon genitive informal. Especially since a dictionary of your choice will be quick to point out it is not. See also older questions on the subject, such as this one. As to Obama's decision, certainly your very own intuition will tell you how natural it sounds as opposed to the awkward the decision of Obama. Natural ≠ informal, and formal ≠ awkward. –  RegDwigнt May 10 '13 at 1:22
    
Anonymous, also consider How to Use Its and It's. –  Peter Mortensen May 10 '13 at 11:01
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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, RegDwigнt May 10 '13 at 1:20

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1 Answer

No — it's perfectly correct English in any context. Omitting the apostrophe would be incorrect.

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You could avoid the apostrophe by using the decision of Obama, but it's awkward in this case, and no more “formal” than using the possessive. –  Bradd Szonye May 9 '13 at 23:01
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