I was reading the Wikipedia article on Animacy and came across something I found to be very interesting:
The higher animacy a referent has, the less preferable it is to use the preposition of for possession, as follows (this can also be interpreted in terms of alienable versus inalienable possession):
My face is correct, while the face of me is not.
The man's face and the face of the man are both correct, and the former is preferred.
The clock's face and the face of the clock are both correct, and the latter is preferred.
It is really interesting to me that there are two different ways of writing the same thing, and the ideal way is based almost entirely on animacy.
Are there any other similar types of characteristics in the English language (where there are multiple ways of writing the same thing, and one becomes more "correct" based on a property of one of the words in the phrase)?
Also, is there a name for this field of study, or available resources for someone interested in learning more about this? I'm interested in this to help teach ESL students different things like this which native speakers innately know (having to do with the structure of a sentence), but don't realize they know.